Saud Anwar Becomes First Muslim Mayor in Connecticut

Cairo: Muslims have warmly welcomed the appointment of M. Saud Anwar to be South Windsor's first Muslim mayor, marking a major milestone for the Islamic community in Connecticut. "Congratulations; may Allah be your help. We need more Muslims in public service like this," wrote one well-wisher on Anwar's Facebook page, The Courant reported. "Hats off dude," wrote another.

A native of Karachi, Pakistan, Anwar, 46, came to the US in 1991, settling first in Illinois, where his grandmother lived, before moving to Connecticut to attend Yale University, where he received a master's degree in public health and did his training in pulmonary medicine.

The history-making selection, however, has passed almost unnoticed in American media. Not only the selection, Anwar's religion has been scarcely noted during a campaign dominated by taxes, sewer charges and all the typical meat-and-potatoes matters that generally shape municipal elections. Yet, for leaders of the Muslim community, the low-profile coverage reflected a growing acceptance for Muslims in politics.

"Our community has been a very accepting community," said Anwar, a Yale-educated physician who moved to town in 1999. "We live in an embracing town where people are respected for who they are and for what they do rather than what they look like or what their belief is ... that's one of the things that make you fall in love with South Windsor."

Ibrahim Hooper, national spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), agreed. Hooper called it "a good sign for the normalization of Muslims in the American political process." Coming seven years after Keith Ellison of Minnesota became the first Muslim elected to Congress, the political clout of American Muslims has grown, Hooper said. "We're seeing more and more Muslim public officials around the country," Hooper observed. "The first of any kind of civic participation is newsworthy, but as more enter the political process, it becomes less newsworthy."


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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