U.S. Muslim Mayor Avoids Mixing Politics and Religion

Posted on January 4, 2007


Source: The Record
By Maya Kremen

“Hey, what’s up,” Mayor Mohamed Khairullah says. “Assalam alaikum. I got your e-mail.”

Khairullah, 31, set a precedent in November by becoming the state’s first elected Arab-American Muslim mayor. Now he’s all about proving that, like any good politician, a Muslim can serve the public without mixing religion into it.

You’ll find the Quran in his office. But it’s wedged between essential reading for this job: a municipal manual and a flood insurance study.

Deliver the goods to everyone, and then you can exert personal perspective. It’s a strategy he imparts to other Muslims and Arabs.

“You need to be sitting at the table with the decision makers; that’s how you get involved,” he tells them. “But we should never forget that we are Americans before anything. We work through the larger community first.” But to get to where he is, Khairullah weathered trouble specific to being an Arab Muslim politician after 9/11. He has been called a “betrayer” and had his remarks on the Palestinian situation come back to bite him. […]

Some recent positive facts about Arab-Americans:

• Leaders say that more Arab-Americans are starting to get involved in politics.

• In this year’s elections, 54 Arab-Americans ran nationwide, 40 won primaries and 24 won general elections.

• Two candidates with Arab heritage ran in New Jersey, Mayor Randy George of North Haledon, who is Christian, and Mohamed Khairullah of Prospect Park, who is Muslim. Both won.

Source: Arab-American Institute