Nick Allen writing in The Telegraph
* * * * *
Shortly before dawn in Hamtramck, Michigan, the first call to prayer reverberates through the narrow rows of snow-dusted white clapboard houses as American flags flutter on porches in the chill wind off Lake Erie.
Around the corner from the Al-Islah Mosque the five daily calls can be heard at the Martha Washington bakery. As customers trickle in one non-Muslim woman refers to it as "that noise."
* I LIKE IT! BUT THEN AGAIN... I ALSO LIKE THE SOUND OF CHURCH BELLS.
She's also not a fan of the niqabs now regularly seen in the high street.
* NOR AM I.
"My ancestors died so I wouldn't have to wear one of those and I never will," she says.
* NO ONE IS THREATENING TO MAKE YOU WEAR ONE. (AND, AGAIN; I'M NOT A FAN EITHER!)
Hamtramck, a working class city of 22,000 people near Detroit, is a national curiosity in America. Earlier this month it became the first city in the country to elect a majority Muslim council. The U.S. Census does not record religion but demographers believe it is also now the first American city where more than 50% of the population is Muslim.
* AND... I'M NOT SURE THAT THIS IS A GOOD THING. (I'LL LEAVE IT AT THAT. THIS IS A WHOLE DISCUSSION IN AND OF ITSELF FOR ANOTHER TIME.)
It has four mosques and 27 languages are spoken in its schools.
* DEFINITELY NOT A FAN OF THE LANGUAGE THING...
* TO CLARIFY: I BELIEVE ENGLISH SHOULD BE THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF THE UNITED STATES. IF YOU ALSO SPEAK A FOREIGN LANGUAGE - OR MORE THAN ONE - THAT'S LAUDABLE. I APPROVE! I ADMIRE YOUR ABILITY. BUT... IN AMERICA EVERYONE EXCEPT TOURISTS AND TEMPORARY RESIDENTS SHOULD SPEAK FLUENT ENGLISH.
The young lady serving burgers in McDonald's wears a headscarf under her baseball cap. Many shop signs are in Arabic, and so is some of the graffiti.
* NOT A FAN OF THE FOREIGN LANGUAGE SIGN EITHER - UNLESS OF COURSE THE FOREIGN SIGNAGE IS IN ADDITION TO ENGLISH SIGNAGE.
The vast majority of people in Hamtramck, both Muslim and non-Muslim, are proud of their new status as "the most diverse city in the U.S." and want it to be a beacon for multicultural America.
* NOT A FAN OF "TOO MUCH" MULTICULTURALISM...
* I'M A TRADITIONAL "MELTING POT" KINDA GUY...
In the November 3 election, four of the six council seats went to Muslim candidates. Saad Almasmari, 28, a dynamic politician who arrived from Yemen in 2009, got the most votes, but dozens of his posters were destroyed.
* AND...??? SO...??? STANDARD ELECTIONEERING CRAP...
More alarming was the distribution of flyers urging voters to support white candidates. The flyers said: "Let's get the Muslim out of Hamtramck. Let's take back our city."
* I'M NOT "ALARMED." I SAY GET IT OUT IN THE OPEN.
"That was racist and whoever did it was trying to divide the community," said Mr Almasmari. "But that didn't happen, and that's because we respect each other here.
* OH, PLEASE... GIVE IT A BREAK WITH THE "RACISM" CRAP. AGAIN... I BELIEVE IT'S ACTUALLY HEALTHIER TO GET IT ALL OUT IN THE OPEN AS OPPOSED TO LETTING IT FESTER IN THE SHADOWS. SPEAK UP! SHOW SOME BALLS!
"I didn't win the election because I'm Muslim, I won because I knocked on everybody's door and will represent everybody. Thirty per cent of my supporters were Polish people. I'm proud of my religion, but I'm not going to put it into my job.
* NAH. PRETTY SURE PLENTY OF PEOPLE VOTED FOR YOU (AND PLENTY VOTED AGAINST YOU) BECAUSE YOU'RE MUSLIM.
"We are going to be a great city and our diversity is going to be a great example for the country."
* WE'LL SEE...
That diversity began a century ago when foreign workers flocked to the motor industry in Detroit, and to run the shops that sprang up around it. For decades Hamtramck was largely Polish. A statue of John Paul II, the Polish pope, stands in the middle of town. In recent years many Poles have left while more immigrants from Yemen, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Pakistan and Iraq have arrived.
The city recently welcomed its first refugees from Syria. The half dozen families who have settled are among a total of 2,174 Syrian refugees the U.S. has accepted since 2012.
* HOW MANY REFUGEES IS BRAZIL ACCEPTING...? (JUST... CURIOUS...)
Following the Paris terror attacks, Rick Snyder, Michigan governor, joined the governors of 30 other states in refusing to accept any more.
* GOOD FOR HIM!
Donald Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner, went further calling for surveillance of mosques and not ruling out a database for all Muslims.
* I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH EITHER SUGGESTION WITHIN THE SPIRIT OF THE CALL. TRUMP IS TALKING ABOUT RADICAL MOSQUES; AND CLEARLY SUCH MOSQUES EXIST. AS FOR DATABASES... (*SNORT*)... THE WHOLE POINT OF A DATABASE IS TO...
* OH... NEVER MIND...
(*ROLLING MY EYES*)
Karen Majewski, the Mayor of Hamtramck, who is of Polish descent, said the city would "absolutely" welcome more Syrian refugees. Far from being a hotbed of religious and cultural conflict, she said Hamtramck was a positive example.
* I WOULDN'T VOTE FOR MAJEWSKI. I'M AGAINST BRINGING IN REFUGEES.
"This is not an ethnic Disneyland," she said. "But the media looks for tension. I think it's been overblown. Whatever tensions there have been are just the normal tensions of a small place with people from all over the world."
She added: "The overall face of the American demographic is changing...
* YEP. AND THAT'S NOT GOOD.
Musa Khan, Secretary of the Al-Islah Mosque, who immigrated from Bangladesh, said the volume of its loudspeaker had been lowered.
"We had a backlash so we got together with the churches and synagogues and everyone and I think people understand," he said.
"We try to make it a reasonable sound, and if anyone complains we turn it down."
* SOUNDS REASONABLE!
In a house with a porch on the edge of town, Samir Rachdan, 56, one of the few Syrian refugees accepted by America, said he had been welcomed with open arms in Hamtramck, and was delighted to be living there with his wife, Entasar, 53, and seven of their children.
* AND HOW MUCH IS IT COSTING THE TAXPAYERS TO EDUCATE HIS SEVEN CHILDREN. INDEED, HOW MUCH IS RACHDAN AND HIS FAMILY COSTING TAXPAYERS ALL TOLD?
Three years ago Mr Rachdan abandoned his carpentry business and grocery store in Daraa, in southwest Syria, and walked for two days with his family to the Jordanian border. He described an exhaustive process of interviews with UN and U.S. Homeland Security officials before he was cleared to be flown to America.
* AND HIS ANSWERS WERE VETTED... HOW...???
"When they told me I was going to Detroit I was scared," he said. "But when I got here people smiled and welcomed me. It was very different to what I'd heard. People come round every day to say hello and give us a hug. "I feel freedom. The freedom here amazes me. I love America."
* I HOPE SO; BUT FRANKLY... THAT'S NOT A REASON TO BRING YOU IN - EVEN IF YOU'RE SINCERE. CERTAINLY NOT AS A REFUGEE.
The community in Hamtramck has donated everything from the sofa Mr. Rachdan sits on to the Juventus football tracksuit he wears. "Somebody even gave me a car. It's unbelievable," he said.
* AND I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH PRIVATE CHARITY! I'M A FAN! (BUT NOTICE HOW THE STORY DOESN'T EXPLORE THE TAXPAYER BURDEN...)
When phones work in Syria he talks to his daughter Nadine, 28, who is still there. "She is always sat in a corner waiting for a bomb," he said.
* NOT... OUR... PROBLEM...
Mr. Rachdan said he understood America's reluctance to take more refugees following the Paris attacks, but added: "They should take families. Those are the people that want to work, that can help build America, not the bad people."
* I AGREE THAT WE SHOULD SEEK HARDWORKING IMMIGRANTS... BUT FIRST WE NEED TO ASSIMILATE THE ONES WE'VE GOT. YOU FOLKS WHO HAVEN'T READ ANN COULTER'S "ADIOS AMERICA" REALLY SHOULD READ IT.
* AMERICA'S IMMIGRATION POLICIES SHOULD BE PREMISED UPON AMERICAN SELF-INTEREST AND RATIONALITY - NOT EMOTION.
Asked what he liked most about his new life in America, Mr. Rachdan began crying. They were sobs of joy and relief. Through his tears he managed a single word - "Humanity," he said.