Inside America’s Only Muslim-Majority City – Hamtramck, MI

Dec 04, 2021 4.3M Views 10.5K Comments

Join me as we venture into one of the most interesting and surprising places in the USA. We’ll meet the locals from all different backgrounds in America’s only Muslim-majority city, Hamtramck, MI. A 2.1 square-mile world of its own surrounded by Detroit.

Good afternoon, guys.
Here in beautiful downtown Detroit.
Today’s video is about
a city within Detroit.
2.1 square miles.
It is the largest and only
Muslim-majority city in America.
Completely different universe.
I checked it out the other day.
Very interesting place.
Today we’re gonna dive in.
I have no contact set up.
Don’t know what we’ll run into.
Which sometimes makes
the most interesting videos.
Let’s do this.
♪ middle eastern ♪
[music continues]
All right, guys.
So we’re here in Hamtramck
and I found on the map
Hamtramck Disney Land.
<That’s right.
-You guys are saying… Where is it?
Out here I heard it’s
mostly Muslims, right?
You got everyone?
God bless, thanks guys.
All right, guys.
So I saw on Google Maps
there is a Hamtramck Disney Land.
Who knows what that is
but sounds interesting.
Okay, the guy said go
in the back alleyway here
and walk down until you
see the colored buildings.
I guess this is it.
Hamtramck, 28,000 people.
1970, it was…
Oh, this is cool.
Look at this.
1970, 90% Pols.
Fast forward to today,
I believe it’s 90% Muslim.
Less than 10% Pols.
Here you go.
Ukrainian guy here.
His creative mind at work.
His back yard here in Hamtramck.
Nobody seems to be here unfortunately
but you gotta love this stuff.
[car passing]
Now I’m downtown.
I’m talking to the camera.
This is downtown Hamtramck, right?
-Yeah.
Where is the action at?
-I don’t know.
It might be like Saudi Arabia.
When I was in Saudi
I’d go out mid-day to shoot videos and
nobody would be out.
and then night time came
totally different reality.
Polish store across the street.
One of these classic
Eastern European shops.
What’s going on?
You gotta go over here?
Oh, that’s all right.
Are you ethnically Polish?
So what’s going on out here?
It’s like 10% Polish
mostly Muslim?
Eastern European?
I’ve lived in the same house.
-How is it?
-I still love it.
-It’s a cool community?
-Yeah.
Because I get along with
everybody and I don’t care
what nationality you are.
-Sure.
-And the neighbors are all nice.
I have no problems.
Really nice, they take care…
The Arabs are coming in
they’re redoing the homes…
-Nice.
-Beautifully.
And that’s what I like.
They’ve got the money to do it.
-They’re bringing up the community?
-Yeah.
I think so.
-That’s great.
-I think so and I have no problem.
I get along with everybody.
-You seem like that type of lady.
-Oh yeah.
What are you?
-Macedonian…
-Skopje.
-She’s been here, I’ve
known her for about 40 years.
-You don’t run around like you used to?
-No.
-What did you used to do?
You were wild back in the day?
-Yeah. [chuckles]
That’s me, I lived a life.
I got an eye for men.
[laughter]
Now, I’m trying to…
-Are you hitting on me?
We gonna go out for a date?
-No, I’m not, I’m single
but I’m trying to picture you with hair.
PETER: 50 years?
Talk about the neighborhood.
How is it?
Your friend out here seems to love it.
How about yourself?
-Yeah, we still love it.
Nothing wrong, quiet, we’re still here.
-You wanna see a movie star?
-Yeah.
-Look at that picture
The blonde, that’s her.
-This one, it was me.
Speaking about no hair…
-Wow.
Do you feel threatened?
I mean quite often when
another group comes in
some people feel threatened.
Do you feel threatened?
-They don’t bother nobody.
-At my age, they help me.
They come out, help me with groceries.
They do everything to help me.
-So they have old-school values?
-Yes, and they are very respectful
and not only that, they are so handsome.
-The men?
-The men are handsome.
Yeah, beautiful people.
-They got beautiful hair.
When they take those scarves…
You should see how beautiful.
-The women’s hair?
We wouldn’t know.
-But when they go outside
you just see the eyes.
-Do the Muslim women come
in here who have full head-scarf?
-A little because if they wanna come
they want you to shut the business
and they shut the curtains.
-Okay.
-Because if the sign is open
somebody walks, she’s in a
chair, she goes in the bathroom
because men cannot see her.
That’s a no-no.
-This is my objection.
-Yeah, that’s a no-no.
-You don’t like that one?
Culturally that’s a big difference.
-But that’s culture.
-That’s their thing, huh?
-You know what I really want?
-What?
I want a man
that would go to the movies with me.
Just to be a companionship, a best friend.
-Okay, I think you can find him.
-You think so?
Can I use you? How old are you?
-I’m 44.
-My sons are 60!
[laughter]
-Hey, if I were staying here longer,
I’d take you out to the movies
but I have to leave tonight.
Thank you, ladies.
-The name of the place is Myra.
Yeah, first trip here.
-Weren’t you in that movie?
She was in that movie.
-Oh, wow.
You’re not that old, you’re
alive, you’re doing well
you got the smile, you got
the glow, you got the energy
-Okay, I’m going right here.
-All right, I’m gonna open your door.
There ya go.
-Okay, thank you.
Nice talking to you.
-Thanks, Teresa, God bless.
[music]
What’s going on, Habibi?
Habibi?
Look at his hair.
Could you cut his hair do you think?
Why don’t you get your hair cut by her?
-You’re ready for another one then.
[laughter]
[car passes]
You guys drive like crazy don’t you?
That’s your brother?
He’s gotta slow down, man.
That’s how I was though.
How old is he?
When I was 16 it was all gas.
Hello, sir.
Hi, assalamu alaikum.
MAN: Alaikum salam.
Thank you.
Downtown Detroit’s
really come back to life.
I never went there before but
from what everyone knows
it was pretty down and out.
Downtown is quite alive.
and then this
is like another…
We’re completely surrounded
by Detroit
but it doesn’t feel anything like Detroit.
Feels totally different.
Like a little island in here.
Excuse me, sir.
Is there a good restaurant up here?
Straight and left?
What kind of food?
Okay guys, so more of a
Bengali community down here
and I want to make it very clear that
Bangladesh has a massive Muslim population.
So when we think of
Muslims it’s everything from
Saudi Arabia to Iran
to the Balkans
Bosnia, Albania, both countries
have large Muslim populations.
Arab Peninsula, as we all know.
Iraq…
So you’re covering a wide swath.
You can’t put an easy label on
Muslim in a region or a nationality
because it’s so mixed up.
I mean when you’re
speaking of Indonesia alone.
Indonesia alone, roughly 16,000 islands.
8,000 inhabited.
Mostly Muslim.
It’s really stretching
throughout the whole world.
How you doing, sir?
Hello, sir.
Salam.
-Huh?
-Where’s the good Bengali food?
Bengali food.
Bengali food, fish and rice, go straight.
-Fish and rice.
-Yeah.
-Go straight.
-Straight, okay.
Thank you.
Hello.
Okay, we can see
more of an Indian Bengali influence here.
Most people know India
is a primarily Hindu culture
but there’s a massive
Muslim population there also.
Hello, Salam, Sir.
And I’m getting that Southeast Asian feel
that I do miss.
The sign, Aladdin.
This sign is Aladdin.
-Okay, you Bengali?
-Yes.
Dhaka.
-Thank you.
-I was there many years ago, Dhaka.
-You go in Dhaka?
-I loved it.
-You found it.
It’s good food over here.
-Bengali Enterprise.
But that’s not the Bengali food.
I guess it’s here.
We’ll give this a go.
[door opens]
It’s Indian food or Bengali food?
-Indian.
-Muslim though, right?
-All Halal.
-All Halal.
I’m sure on the weekends
this place comes alive.
The music, the dancing, the chandelier.
The New York Bengalis are coming here?
-Definitely, especially this year.
-Why?
There’s been a lot of people coming here.
You know how it is you
know, you’ve been to New York.
You know how the rent and everything is.
-Okay, it’s cheaper here.
-Yes, a lot cheaper here.
You work for some sort of money, you know?
-Yeah
-You’re not just putting it towards rent.
You have some to save up here, you know?
-Gotcha, so you can buy this.
What do we have here, some lentils?
-This is lentil with chard.
That’s what we call it.
This is just beef curry, straight up.
-Beef curry.
-Yeah
-And this is Halal?
-Oh yeah.
Yeah, this is Halal, yeah.
-Is Mountain Dew Halal?
-That I can’t answer.
[laughter]
I’m not sure on that one.
When I was your age I drank Mountain
Dew and then my teeth started hurting
and I stopped.
-Oh, for real?
-My gums were hurting.
I have no idea.
It’s more of a joke actually.
[laughter]
-Sh*t, I was gonna say you might
wanna go check out the dentist, man.
Oh, that’s a lot of rice.
Your parents are Bengali?
-Yeah, they’re Bengali, yeah.
-Okay.
And is it hard being first generation
where you’re between two worlds?
Maybe your parents are teaching all
Bengali values and then you’re in the US.
-Honestly I think that’s
pretty dope, you know?
I get to know both worlds.
Whatever I want to go.
For example, if I don’t like it
I can go back. I know that too.
It’s just really cool for me.
-So you get to see two
different cultures in a way?
-Oh yeah.
-Inside of you too maybe.
-Yeah, I love it. [chuckles]
-This is the point I always try to
make to people in the US or the West
is when I’m in the Muslim world
you just show up and people invite you in.
So I sort of came up on the table.
Now they’re inviting me
to eat some of their food
and that’s what I love about…
-We’re all brothers at the end of the day
you feel me?
There you go, man.
Come and sit here.
-Okay thanks, guys.
What are your names?
-My name is Hussein.
-Hussein?
-Yeah.
That’s Emtias.
-Emtias.
-Emtias.
Peter.
Peter Griffin, yeah.
I get called that a lot.
[laughter]
Thank you.
Nice compliment.
-And that’s Sulayman.
-Sulayman?
-Sulayman, yes.
Don’t get him started now.
-That is beautiful hair
you got there Sulayman.
Thanks, guys.
[laughter]
You can use the hands.
I don’t care.
What do you do normally when
there’s no camera? You use hands
or fork and knife?
Not outside.
How was the first bite?
-Good?
-Nice.
-You like it?
-Nice.
Really nice spice in there.
Beautiful, Bengalis know how to do food.
-Oh yeah.
My first time there was 2005.
Landed in Dhaka
and it was like monsoon season.
-Oh, okay.
-And it was wild then.
-How long did you stay there?
-It was wild, it was a few days.
You pray five times a day?
-Yes.
Religiously, honestly every day you do it?
-Yeah, if we miss it we
try to make it back up.
-What do you feel out of it?
Do you get something out of it?
-I’ll give you my personal preference.
Once you pray you feel like
you’ve done something good
and it makes your rest
of the day go peacefully
and when I don’t pray
the day… I just can’t make it and
I gotta rush to work or something…
-Does it kill tension?
Does it like bring down anxiety?
-It does, it definitely does.
-I like that about Islam.
Salat, alms, Ramadan.
Ramadan teaches discipline, right?
-Oh yeah.
-You get hungry then
it’s that much better, right?
-Mm-hmm.
Is this fish?
-Yeah.
Some sort of fish, some white fish
with a good spice
-Thank you, thank you.
-I’ll see you, take it easy now, stay safe.
-Thanks, guys.
Please.
No, no, no.
Brother, you’re a guest.
You are my guest.
Thank you so much.
-Assalamu alaikum.
-Wa alaikum salam.
All right, guys.
What a cool experience.
Just like you get in the Muslim world
people
people sharing their food and then paying.
Those guys, what, young 20 somethings?
Refused for me to pay.
I told them I was gonna buy the lunch
’cause they were so cool to be on camera.
They said no, they would not let me pay.
The manger there, or owner
gave me the drink
It’s one of those facts that
doesn’t get communicated
outside of the Muslim world.
You have to experience it for yourself.
So often when traveling
through Muslim countries
people do that.
They bring you in.
I think it’s from the sort of
caravan mentality of travelers
and people stopping and sharing.
Now we’re getting it here.
in Hamtramck.
Sobieski, a very Polish name
and the story of Hamtramck seems to be
the ethnicity and the identity changing
and that is so true in
so many American cites.
For example in the Bronx.
Part of it was a big Italian town.
That’s somewhat gone away to the Albanians
and other ethnicities.
Vladimir, Peter.
-Peter?
[Polish]
Good talking.
-Yes, okay.
Looks like straight out of Ukraine
or Poland.
They’re heavy on the tea,
heavy on the chocolates.
So it’s really a fascinating mix, guys.
So you have that
Bengali world right around the block
then you have this Eastern European world.
So for those Americans wanting to go abroad
they can’t travel, don’t have the time.
Don’t have the money to go far.
Come to Detroit.
Detroit’s got a little bit of everything.
And this is obviously inside of Detroit.
Its own city, Hamtramck.
But the whole metro area here
has a lot of cultural fusion going on
Catch up on your Polish gossip.
The treats, the Slodkie.
Got some confetti, some little chocolates.
Very popular in Eastern Europe.
Literally right across
the street from Bozeks
we have this Middle Eastern food place.
Hello.
Thank you, sir.
Lots of fruit, vegetables.
Look at the difference of the two shops.
You gotta love that, the olive bar.
Hummus, all the spices.
So you can see the influence in
the cultures through the shops.
-In Hamtramck this is
the main Arabic store
for Yemenis and Bengali people.
-Where are you from?
-I’m from Syria.
-Syria?
-Syria, Homs.
I’ve been here for four years.
I was in Homs.
-Really?
-2008.
-It’s nice.
And out to Palmyra from there.
-Oh, wow.
Loved it, man.
It was amazing.
When I was there it was very peaceful.
People were amazing.
-But the war…
-The war… The people still the same?
-People changed.
-People changed?
Because of the war?
-Because of the war, yeah.
-They became less open?
-They are open, Syrian people are open.
-They’re still open?
-Yeah, they’re still
open but it becomes like
if you are, for example,
with the government
that killed people,
people won’t like you.
They won’t talk to you if you
support the regime of Assad.
So you have a big
division in Syria right now?
-Yeah.
What do you think about in the US?
Do we have a divide?
-US is the best country ever.
It’s diverse, you have freedom
you have a lot of opportunities
you can start from zero and be on the top.
-Did you start from zero?
-Yeah.
-How old are you?
-I came here as a refugee actually
As a refugee?
-Yeah.
-Thanks man, nice to see you.
That’s just a little teaser of what
it looks like in the Arab market
versus the Polish market.
across the street from each other.
Both people shopping
in each other’s markets.
So the food is crossing over.
42% I believe… 42 or 45 are
foreign-born here in Hamtramck.
So a lot of Muslims here but also a
lot of Muslims in Dearborn Michigan.
Actually many more.
I made videos about Dearborn.
Totally different feel.
Totally different look.
All right, we found ourself
on the way to a cricket match.
And your name?
-Pishal.
-Pishal has got the best hit in the group.
So we’ve heard, right?
I played cricket in the
back alleyways of Peshawar Pakistan.
With the Pashtun people.
You know the Pashtuns?
-Yeah, people who live in Pashir?
No, Pashtuns are near Afghani and Pakistan.
They’re a type of people
and they’re either all love or all war.
One of the two.
What do you think of this guy, Amer?
You think he’s gonna win?
Amer, let’s ask him.
Salam.
Amer, will you win the election?
Yes or no.
Will you win the election?
That’s all I needed to hear.
-And your support.
-Your signs are everywhere.
I don’t know your policies at all.
I’m not endorsing Amer but he’s run the
best marketing campaign I’ve seen out here.
-Thank you.
-So good luck.
-Thank you, thank you.
-Keep Hamtramck safe.
-Sure, thank you.
Hello sir, how are you?
-Good.
-Beautiful beard you have.
-Thank you.
-Nice and red.
I can’t do that, can you?
No, not yet?
One day?
What a mix.
What a place.
-In our high school 40 people
talk 40 different languages.
-40 different languages
here in 2.1 square miles?
-Yeah.
And guys, I just want to point
out you have what’s going on
in so much of Detroit
these old beautiful buildings…
It looks like it’s being redone.
Looks like some new windows going in.
-In the 90s people left the city.
Now people are coming.
-In the 90s people left Hamtramck,
now they’re coming back?
-Yeah.
-Gotcha.
How you doing, man, nice hair.
-Are you a YouTuber?
What are these for?
-We make it as a stamp.
-A stamp?
-Yeah.
-When you hit the ball in
the sticks behind the cricketer.
-The pitcher needs to get it in there?
-Yeah, yeah.
-Gotcha, you improvise.
Oh, look at this old, beautiful building.
I hope they bring that back.
It’s a book store, beautiful.
Gotta love that about
the whole Detroit area.
You guys play cricket?
The Yemenis don’t play cricket do they?
Okay.
So you guys don’t play sports together?
Al Isla Islamic Center, what goes on there?
Okay, do you guys pray there?
Every day?
Are you telling the truth
the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
But a lot?
But a lot, okay.
Oh, you live over here?
Are those your brothers?
Okay.
You just look for the
clearest parking lot, huh?
Okay, my father used to be like this
growing up as an Italian.
Playing stick ball in the streets.
This is back in the day in New York.
You guys are sort of carrying
it on with cricket in the streets.
You’re on the video now though.
You okay with that?
You guys okay with that?
-Yeah.
-All right.
Oh, this is the place.
What’s up you guys? You guys
are all okay with the video, right?
-Yeah.
-Okey dokey.
Who wants to hold the camera?
All right…
[music]
Yeah, you’re doing it right.

[cheering]
Like I’m in another country to some degree.
I played in Pakistan.
Pakistan Zindabad.
[impressed cheering]
-Impressive because other
people doesn’t know how to play.
I love this stuff because it’s just
sort of like my childhood actually.
You know that?
This sort of stuff,
a bunch of guys getting together
hanging out in a parking lot
I didn’t play cricket but…
It was a skateboarder or something else.
[grunts]
I’m good. I’m good guys. I’m good.
All right guys, that is Hamtramck.
Thank you guys for
letting me in on the game.
And for all of you
I want to let you know
there’s a documentary.
I’ve seen the preview, not the whole thing
but the preview looked
very good, the teaser.
I’ll leave that link below.
And I want to also mention,
come to this part of the country.
Greater Detroit.
Hamtramck.
If you want to experience a very cultural
open, fun, dynamic experience here.
In the United States.
All right guys, thank you.
[cheering and goodbyes]
Until the next one…
♪ middle eastern ♪

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