Hammoud says foe’s criticism of his alcohol-limit bill rooted in Islamophobia

By: - March 25, 2019 5:29 pm

Rep. Abdullah Hammoud | House Democrats photo

State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud’s bill package lowering Michigan’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold has drawn sharp criticism from a Democratic political foe.

Brian Stone claims Hammoud is “legislating his personal preferences.” The lawmaker has fired back that he welcomes criticism, but not that which is rooted in Islamophobia.  

HB 4420 and HB 4421, sponsored by Hammoud (D-Dearborn), would lower the acceptable level to .05 from the current .08. HB 4419 would make Michigan the 34th state to require ignition interlock devices for all first-time convicted drunk drivers.

Stone, a political consultant who lost to Hammoud in the state House Democratic primary in 2016, took to Facebook to blast the legislative effort. Stone also lost his 2018 Democratic Wayne County commission primary.

In a post, Stone, who is white, argued that his former opponent is “legislating his personal preferences.” Hammoud is Muslim and does not drink. Stone was let go from now-Attorney General Dana Nessel’s campaign last year shortly after a video surfaced of him saying the “n-word” at a poetry slam event.

Stone further claimed through a Facebook post that Hammoud is using “bogus studies and outright lies are being used to sway public opinion.”

He told the Advance on Monday that be believes other Dearborn residents agree with his stance and that he doesn’t think Hammoud “thought through” the legislation.

“I think it’s because he’s overly zealous on this issue,” Stone said. “I don’t see it being any different than people who have strong religious beliefs about LGBT rights and try to legislate those beliefs. People should not be legislating their personal beliefs.”

Hammoud told the Advance on Monday that it’s “false” for Stone to say he’s “pushing forth some type of Sharia” law.

“I can’t speak to the motivation behind any individual’s Facebook post, but what I can say is this: The community has been impacted by drunk driving and I have been working with leading advocates across the nation to impose a solution to save lives,” Hammoud said. “For anyone to say that I am pushing forth a type of Sharia, that’s just false.”

Stone, in a separate post over the weekend wrote:

“The only thing saving Michigan residents from Abdullah Hammoud’s punitive and discriminatory legislation is his own laziness and ineptitude. Abdullah has not passed one single public act or spending bill since coming into office.

“His office seems only capable of producing bad proposals, publicizing them, and then doing absolutely nothing to get them passed. Abdullah is the least accomplished state representative in the last 30 years of Dearborn history, at least. Abdullah has had so little success in his job as a legislator that he is now asking Dearborn City Council to do his job for him by passing environmental bills in his behalf.”

Abdullah Hammoud

Hammoud responded to Stone’s criticism in a Facebook post of his own:

“I welcome any input/questions/disagreements pertaining to any piece of legislation I introduce. However, what is not welcomed, is that Islamophobic reference that I am legislating my ‘personal preference’ because I choose not to consume alcohol. It is demeaning and rooted in the same bigotry as those who beat the drums that I am trying to enact Sharia or force others ‘to adhere to the tenets of your faith,’ as you stated.”

Upon introducing the legislation last week, Hammoud said, “We must address drunk driving, which is a completely avoidable epidemic.

“As a former public health professional, I am motivated by facts and statistics, and as a legislator I know our current policies in place to prevent drunk driving are not working, which is why we must do more.”

Hammoud’s motivation stems from a tragic January vehicular accident involving a Northville family returning home from a holiday vacation in Florida. Issam Abbas; his wife, Rima Abbas; and their three children were killed on I-75 in Lexington, Ky. Their vehicle was struck by a pickup truck driven by a drunk driver, according to a WDIV-TV 4 report.   

“These critical proposals will do more to prevent drinking and driving, and ultimately save lives,” said Hammoud.

Helen Witty

Helen Witty, Mothers Against Drunk Driving national president, supports Hammoud’s legislation:

“We are proud to stand with Michigan to support this proposal that research shows will save lives,” said Witty, whose 16-year-old daughter Helen Marie was killed by a drunk and marijuana-impaired driver while rollerblading on a bike path.

“Research shows that critical driving skills are impaired at 0.05 BAC, significantly increasing the risk of a horrible, 100 percent preventable crash. We want to do anything we can to support states that are trying to stop these tragedies and keep drunk drivers off the road.”

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.