Russia launches ‘massive’ attack on Ukraine power infrastructure

DEARBORN, United States: The election of Abdullah Hammoud as Dearborn’s first Muslim mayor was a watershed moment for the city, an auto manufacturing hub that is home to the highest concentration of Arab-Americans in the United States.
But while his early focus was on upgrading sewer infrastructure and investing in parks, he has now taken center stage for his outspoken criticism of fellow Democrat Joe Biden for the president’s support for Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.
“I will be the first to say that we do not want (Donald) Trump to be re-elected to the White House,” Hammoud told AFP in an interview. “But people want to be inspired to come out.”
Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit known as the birthplace of Henry Ford and the headquarters of the Ford Motor Company, has a population of about 110,000, 55 percent of whom claim Middle Eastern or North African heritage.
In 2020, Dearborn voters overwhelmingly backed Biden, and their ballots could tip the scales in Michigan — a decisive swing that could ultimately decide the winner of the White House in November’s election.
Hammoud’s profile rose in January after he declined an invitation to meet with Biden campaign officials seeking to drum up Muslim votes.
Since then, he’s helped spark a movement where more than 100,000 voters in Michigan’s Democratic primary voted “uncommitted” to protest Biden’s policies on Israel, and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein asked him if he would be her running mate.
Hammoud, who will reach the constitutional requirement of 35 by next March, was too young to accept the role, although he said the offer was “very humbling”.
Also, he’s still not sure how he’ll cast his vote.
“I would say that no presidential candidate has won my vote,” the father of two said, urging both parties to pay attention to growing public disapproval of Israel’s actions.
“If you look at all the polling data that’s coming out across the country, coast to coast, the issues that we’ve been advocating for, fighting for… are issues that have popular support.”
These demands include a permanent cease-fire as a way to provide safe harbor for all hostages and prisoners, unrestricted access to humanitarian aid, and an end to the supply of arms to Israel.
The son of Lebanese immigrants, Hammoud grew up in a “working poor” family of blue-collar workers. His father drove a truck while his mother’s father worked on an assembly line at a car factory.
He was drawn to the Democratic Party for its support of the labor movement and equally repelled by Republicans, who he says have a history of “demonizing Arab Americans, Muslim Americans and other people of color.”
Hammoud’s first dream was to become a doctor, but he failed to get the grades. Instead, he trained as an epidemiologist and began climbing the corporate ladder as a health care executive.
However, the sudden death of his beloved older brother – Hammoud was the second of five children – forced him to reassess his priorities and in 2016 he won election to the state legislature.
Then, in 2022, he became the second of a trio of new Muslim mayors in the southeast Michigan cities of Dearborn, Dearborn Heights and Hamtramck.
Hammoud immediately set about righting historical wrongs.
For decades, the city had a reputation for racism, exemplified by former mayor Orville Hubbard’s openly segregationist policies.
Hammoud appointed the city’s first Arab-American police chief, which his spokesman said led to a drastic drop in tickets issued to black drivers within a year.
Until the Gaza war, which was triggered by Hamas attacks and hostage taking on October 7, 2023, Hammoud considered Biden a “transformative” president, but now believes that “genocide will outweigh the impact of these domestic policies.”
Hammoud dodges the question of whether he might end up endorsing Biden under the right circumstances, stressing that whatever he might say, it is too late for some of his constituents, who have lost dozens of relatives to Israeli bombs.
He has no doubt that Trump, who has imposed a Muslim travel ban during his tenure, would be a total disaster — citing the Republican arming of Saudi Arabia against Yemen, support for Israeli settlements in the West Bank and moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.
But Hammoud is pushing back against suggestions that members of his community are to blame for potentially paving the way for Trump’s return by withholding their support for Biden.
Asked how he would respond to the criticism, Hammoud said: “The question should be asked of President Joe Biden — what is he going to do to prevent Trump from being re-elected in November? What will he do to help prevent the breakdown of American democracy and the fabric of our society?

Leave a Comment