By Adil James, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
Farmington–September 30–Among the three Muslim candidates with sufficient political vitality to pass unscathed through the Detroit City Council Primary is Mr. Mohamed Okdie, who has been a prominent figure in state and local Detroit government for several decades; where he worked in many local schools as a social worker for 22 years.
He achieved success and prominence in his position, being nominated by Detroit mayors and Michigan governors to several prominent positions which he took solely on a voluntary basis. For example he was appointed by Mayor Dennis Archer to the Detroit – Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency board of directors, where he served for 15 years, overseeing an annual budget of $530 million. He now serves on the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents–and he was appointed to that position by Governor Granholm in January 2009.
He describes these several appointments, explaining that he has â€œstruggled to participate and make quality of life better for all of us.â€
His background among the Muslim families of the metro Detroit region is very deep–his father and grandfather were among the central members of the Dix Road mosque, known as Michiganâ€™s oldest mosque.
Mr. Okdie describes how the early Muslims of this area, while working at the Ford River Rouge auto manufacturing complex, volunteered not only their money and time but the sweat of their brows, and the work of their arms to the building of the Muslim community in Detroit.
â€œI was raised in the mosque on Dix in the south end of Dearborn, close to Detroit. It was built in the 1930â€™s and my family, my father, grandparents, played a central role in building that mosque…. The [Muslims at that time] pooled their money together and bought that land and build that mosque. Those men in the early days used shovels and picks and dug out the foundation of that mosque by hand. They were very dedicated men. They did that after work and on weekends after working in the factory.â€
Okdie explains that although he has never run for political office, he decided to run because â€œI believed that the city is in big trouble, the leadership is weak, and because of my community involvement and academic achievements and my love for the city I thought I could contribute to make things better–I decided to run because I think I may have something to contribute.â€
Even his academic history shows his dedication to Detroit, as he has two degrees (a bachelorâ€™s and a masterâ€™s) from Wayne State University and one associateâ€™s degree from the Detroit Institute of Technology. He also completed two years towards a Ph.D. at Wayne before refocusing on his personal life.
Okdie placed 16th in the primary election, securing a spot among the top 18 who pass to the general election in November.
Perhaps it is a testament to the openness of Detroit residents to Islam, or to his own activeness in state and political community affairs, but Mr. Okdie is unsure that his being Muslim affected the vote:
â€œI think in some places it probably helped me and in others I donâ€™t think it made any difference.â€