In the Media

09/4/10: Paletko hosts annual iftar for Dearborn Heights Muslims

Paletko hosts annual iftar for Dearborn Heights Muslims

By Nick Meyer- Arab American News

Saturday, 09.04.2010, 05:58pm

  Mayor Paletko speaks at his third annual iftar dinner. PHOTO: Neck MeyerDEARBORN HEIGHTS — Al-Shallal Restaurant's banquet room was the site of Dearborn Heights Mayor Daniel Paletko's third annual iftar dinner on Wednesday, September 2, a new tradition that Dearborn Heights Director of Community and Economic Development Ron Amen thinks may have outgrown its current site.

"It gets bigger every year and this is the biggest one yet. I might have to help Mike Hachem (Al-Shallal's owner) find some economic development money just so he can expand for next year," Amen said.

Paletko addressed the crowd, which included special guests such as Imam Mohammed Ali Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom, Dearborn Heights 20th District Court Judge David Turfe, Amen and others, with a warm Ramadan greeting at the beginning of the event.

"It's so good to see so many of you here, I hope all of you will keep me in your prayers and I will keep all of you in my prayers too," Paletko said, referring to the difficulties of the job in trying economic times.

"We hold this event to show the deep and kindest regards for the community and their efforts, talents, and contributions to the city," he added, mentioning Amen and Building and Engineering Department Director Mohammed Sobh in particular along with Turfe and his assistant, Mona Amen.

Paletko said that the city still has some work to do but said he was pleased with the progress Dearborn Heights has made in terms of accommodating its diverse population that includes many Arabs and Muslims. He said he hopes to hire more Arab American and/or Muslim police officers and firefighters to add to the city's diversity and encouraged parents to suggest the possible career paths to to their kids.

"I feel extremely comfortable that you have opened your arms to me and I'm thankful," he said. "I want to continue to work for you and if you have any ideas or suggestions, my door is always open," he said.

Turfe, the city's first-ever Arab American judge, called the dinner a "very nice gesture" conveying "thoughtfulness to his community."

He said that the climate of ethnic and religious tolerance in the city has become more and more welcoming since Paletko took office in 2004.

Nabil Fakih, a pharmacy owner in the city, agreed with Turfe.

"The mayor is very close with the community and whenever we have any issues or problems he works hard to solve them," he said.

"The city is heading in the right direction because of his leadership."