Oct 13, 2022 - Politics

GOP unites with conservative Muslims in Dearborn

Demonstrators who support banning books gather during a protest outside of the Henry Ford Centennial Library in Dearborn, Michigan, on September 25, 2022. Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty

Demonstrators who support banning books gather during a protest outside of the Henry Ford Centennial Library in Dearborn on Sept. 25, 2022. Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty

Republicans are offering support to conservative Muslims in Dearborn angry over LGBTQ+ affirming books in school libraries.

Driving the news: Dearborn is engaged in debate over a number of books — including "This Book is Gay" — in media centers across Dearborn Public Schools, Michigan's third-largest district.

  • Hundreds who packed a school board meeting Monday to protest school board members defending the books refused to settle, shutting the meeting down.
  • The meeting is scheduled to resume tonight at 7pm at the 600-person capacity Stout Middle School auditorium, where posters and signs have been banned, the Free Press reports.

Why it matters: The push to ban these books highlights the national fight over LGBTQ+ positive educational materials in schools.

  • Dearborn's Arab-American Muslim community is an unusual partner for Republican candidates who recently supported a president who proposed banning Muslims from entering the country.
  • Republicans are hoping to capture votes in a heavily Democratic district ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

Details: MI GOP co-chair Meshawn Maddock as well as Steven Elliot, the candidate running against Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib for Congress, have lent support to the mostly Muslim protestors.

Between the lines: Prominent community and business leaders are part of the effort to remove books with LGBTQ+ themes.

  • Fliers from Michigan's chapter of the Council of American-Islamic relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights group in the country, informed parents at the meeting of their religious and parental rights.
  • Dawud Walid, the state chapter's executive director, tells Axios the flyer advocates for parents to ensure children do not have access to materials that contain sexually explicit photos or text. "Such information about parents and students' rights has been given to community members by CAIR-MI prior to the book controversy," Walid says.

What's more: Hassan Chami, founder and organizer of the annual Ramadan Suhoor Festival, is using the festival's Instagram following of more than 10,000 to promote the effort.

What they're saying: "Parents are fed up — and in Dearborn they aren't allowing this nonsense to go on any longer," Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon tells Axios. "Schools need to stop teaching radical sex and gender theories behind parents' backs and instead get back to the basics of teaching reading, writing and math."

The other side: Abdullah Hammoud, a Democrat who left his seat at the state Legislature this year to become Dearborn's first Arab-American mayor, says at the core, efforts to remove books are attempts to limit freedoms "and it will not stop there."

  • "The same dangerous ideology that once considered people like me 'a problem' in Dearborn is now being revived under the guise of preserving 'liberty,'" Hammoud posted in response to the demands.

The latest: The district released updated guidelines for the selection and review of media materials last week, which allows parents to block their children from checking out certain materials from school libraries.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Detroit.

More Detroit stories