We have recently been unashamedly supporting Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who became the first Muslim women elected to US Congress following the 2018 US Midterm elections.
For many of their supporters, the election of Omar, a former refugee from Somalia, and Tlaib, a Palestinian American, reflected a rise in progressive politics and a much-welcome shift away from divisive cultural discourse.
So it’s good to know that the success of these Muslim women is being replicated at different levels of government and the judiciary. Fadwa Hammoud, a prosecutor from Wayne County, Michigan (the same state as Tlaib), was recently appointed as Solicitor General of the state, making her the first Muslim American to hold that position in the history of the country.
Image Credit Michigan Attorney General’s Office
While it’s certainly a momentous achievement, Hammoud is not going to have much time to celebrate it.
Earlier this month, it was announced that Hammoud will be given the not-insignificant task of leading the state of Michigan’s criminal cases related to the Flint water crisis.
On that note, here’s a little context. In 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan, changed its water source from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department water, which was sourced from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to cheaper water from the Flint River.
Unfortunately, Flint River water was insufficiently treated, causing lead from ageing pipes to leak into the supply. The extremely elevated levels of the heavy metal neurotoxin caused a public health disaster and a federal state of emergency to be declared, but not before 12,000 children were exposed to lead contamination and 12 people had died of Legionnaires’ disease.
It wasn’t until 2017 that the water quality had returned to acceptable levels. Much like Hurricane Katrina or people dying of cancer bankrupt because they lack health insurance, Flint really is one of those stories that makes you think America is a very odd place indeed.
Anyways, this is where we get back to Hammoud. In the aftermath of the water crisis, a slew of government officials were hit with a litany of lawsuits, one of the most serious of which fell at the feet of former Michigan health and welfare chief Nick Lyon, who faces involuntary manslaughter charges relating to the Legionnaires’ outbreak.
According to some of her peers, Hammoud is up to the task.
“While I served as a Wayne County judge, Fadwa earned the reputation of being a smart, strong, and passionate trial attorney who fought for victims’ rights and as someone who could be counted on to follow the law,” Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Cameron said.
“Fadwa’s background, experience and intellect are a great fit for this new role, and I’m confident that the State of Michigan will be well-served with her as its Solicitor General,” he added.
Hammoud is clearly the right person for the job; the fact her appointment signals a move toward a more representative judiciary is an added bonus.
Much like Omar and Tlaib, we hope the significance of her new role will eventually be exceeded by what she goes on to accomplish in it.