The Man Who Could be First Muslim Governor in America

Doctor Abdulrahman El-Sayed is running for the post of governor of Michigan. If he succeeds he will be the first Muslim to become state governor in the history of the United States.

He told the news website “I’m not running to be the first Muslim governor. I’m running because I believe I will be the best governor for the state of Michigan, whether or not I’m Muslim.”

Dr Abdulrahman El-Sayed parents immigrated to the US from Egypt and he was born on October 31, 1984 in Detroit, Michigan. He grew up in metropolitan Detroit and graduated from the University of Michigan in 2007 with a major in Biology and Political Science. In 2014 he completed his MD (Doctor of Medicine) training at Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons.

Dr El-Sayed at Graduation with friends and family
Dr El-Sayed at Graduation with friends and family

In August, 2015 El-Sayed was appointed Health Officer and Executive Director of the Detroit Health Department, thus becoming the youngest Health commissioner in a major US city. He is member of Michigan’s Public health Advisory Commission, and the Advisory Committee to the US Secretary of Health & Human Services for Healthy People 2030.

When asked about his Muslim faith and how it can be a liability in the current climate of rethoric and hate towards Muslims in the US he said:

“My faith is really important to me, as it is for many Americans and Michiganders. But I think we should be asking ourselves rather than how one prays, or what they pray to, we should ask ourselves what [one] prays for and what one hopes for.”

Dr El-Sayed with his wife Sarah
Dr El-Sayed with his wife Sarah

In a speech as part of his campaign for governor, El-Sayed said:

“My focus is, has always been, and will always be people. My work has always been about building and leading the kinds of institutions that create opportunities for real people by breaking down the barriers that they face in their lives to being able to have the opportunity we want for my children. That work has never been more important than it is today. I am running because of the values my Islam teaches me — which includes beliefs in equity, the fundamental rights of all people, a belief that we will judge ourselves as a people based on how we treat the most vulnerable. A belief in being good to others fundamentally, a belief in respect and dignity to one’s neighbors and one’s friends and one’s family. This idea of America is so much bigger than anyone.”

Referring to the oppressive regime ruling Egypt currently, he said:

“I know what it looks like to live in a country that doesn’t respect fundamental civil rights or pluralism, equity or care for the most vulnerable. I only have to think of my cousins who don’t have what I have, because they weren’t lucky enough to be born in the country I was born in. It’s why America is an idea I fight for.”