HomeBad Ass AsiansAsian American Mayor Becomes First to Visit San Antonio's Muslim Community
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Asian American Mayor Becomes First to Visit San Antonio’s Muslim Community

Ron Nirenberg at Muslim Temple
Mayor Ron Nirenberg of San Antonio speaks with his Muslim constituents

By Ahmed Sharma, AsAmNews Staff Writer

The mayor of San Antonio came to pay a visit to the local Muslim community Friday, the first such visit by a San Antonio mayor in the history of the city.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg is Filipino, Malaysian, Polish, Russian, and British. Voters elected him in 2017 for a two year term. He previously served on the city council.

Sakib Shaikh, Director of Public & Community Relations and Official MCECC Spokesman explained, “Mayor Nirenberg is visiting the community to participate in a meet and greet, along with a moderated Q&A with audience participation.”

In other words, the Mayor’s arrival at the mosque is a public forum that just so happens to be hosted by Muslims at their mosque and education center.

Shaikh went on to explain what a significant event it is.

“We have the highest public official in the city visiting us in our home. As the community grows and becomes aware of its own presence we hope to establish stronger relationships with public as well as religious figures,” Shaikh said.

While the event happened simultaneously around the mayor’s re-election, Shaikh explained the timing was purely coincidental.

“I have been working with the Mayor’s office to find the right time for this event for the past few months.” Shaikh continued. “Our intent is not to turn the event into a campaign style event. The goal is to be educational for the community as well as the Mayor.”

This is not to say, of course, that other San Antonio politicians that have run for office were not invited to speak before.

On the contrary, Shaikh says, “During the campaign we always invite candidates whose districts or office encompass the area of the MCECC or that we know Muslim live in. In the past we have invited all District 8 City Council candidates to address the community. “

Mayor Ron Nirenberg at Muslim Temple

Furthermore, Shaikh said San Antonio officials are also invited to participate in the fast, during the Islamic holiday, Ramadan, where Muslims fast – abstain from food and drinks (even water) as well as other vices – from sunrise to sunset for 30 days.

“During Ramadan we invite non-Muslims to fast just like us and experience Ramadan with us. To make the experience worth it, for every non-Muslim that fasts with us, we pledge to donate $100 in their name to a local non-profit. All they have to do is fast like us, no food or drink until the sun comes down, and they have to break their fast with us at the MCECC.” He continued, “We have invited nearly every public official in the Bexar County area to fast with us during Ramadan, and have invited all major Mayoral candidates to address the community.”

Many local politicians and officials have participated and opened their fast with San Antonio’s Muslim community Shaikh explained, “Councilman [Manny] Pelaez has visited the community multiple times during the election as well as fasting with us during Ramadan. Councilmen [Greg] Brockhouse and [Rey] Saldana have fasted with us. All three major mayoral candidates from the 2017 election visited us. DA Gonzales has visited the community a number of times before the election, and once after, but maintains good relations with a number of prominent community members. Councilwoman [Ana] Sandoval has attended our Fast-a-Thon dinner in 2018.”

He concluded by expressing his hope that the event will be beneficial to the interests of the mayor and the people of San Antonio, “The interests of the community are broad. They range from the ease of doing business in the City, to making San Antonio healthy.

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