Euless should celebrate its council's new diversity

Debby Jackson talks with Salman Bhojani volunteer Ifti Khan during voting Saturday at the Euless Public Library.
Debby Jackson talks with Salman Bhojani volunteer Ifti Khan during voting Saturday at the Euless Public Library. Bob Booth

Voters in Euless have rejected the hurtful and counter-productive race-baiting that swirled around the city council candidacy of 38-year-old attorney Salman Bhojani.

Now, as Bhojani prepares to be sworn in, the citizens of Euless need to demand that the divisive insinuations stop.

On Saturday, Bhojani narrowly defeated Molly Maddux to win the Place 6 seat, but the comments and innuendo he and his family endured during the campaign were sadly xenophobic, bigoted and not in keeping with American values of inclusion.

State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, a Tea Party conservative from Bedford, was the chief antagonist.

He inserted himself into the election with thinly veiled taunts designed to heighten any Islamophobic sentiments that might be simmering in the community.

Stickland warned on Facebook: “He is a Muslim, lawyer, and a lifelong Democrat who supports raising your taxes. ...”

Stickland says he just differed with Bhojani on issues. But he couldn’t resist identifying the attorney and businessman as a Muslim.

Stickland also linked to a video on Bhojani’s website that showed a Cub Scout troop reading a passage from the Quran at a Euless council meeting. Bhojani is a Scout volunteer, and says the passage recited from the Islamic sacred book called for unity among faiths.

Isn’t unity among faiths and people of different cultures a good thing? You bet it is.

Being an American Muslim should not be a strike against a qualified candidate. The whole episode makes you wonder if we’ve evolved much since religious prejudice about John F. Kennedy being a Roman Catholic when he decided to run for president in 1960.

While this Editorial Board did not recommend a specific candidate in the District 6 council race in Euless, we see some real value to the diversity Bhojani can bring to his community.

He will be the only person of color among seven public officials, including the mayor.

His experiences can inform the council on cultural issues and decisions that may uniquely affect minority citizens.

He brings other unique experiences as well.

He’s started several businesses and campaigned on his ability to help create city policies that will assist the community’s entrepreneurs. He’s a young parent with two small children who wants to ensure family needs are given consideration at city hall.

According to the last U.S. Census, 33 percent of Euless’ population is non-white. Students in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district speak at least 78 different languages, and more than 60 percent are non-white.

There’s no room in Euless or any other community for the ridiculous fear-mongering aimed at Bhojani. Judge him on the decisions he makes at City Hall, not on the house of worship he attends.

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