Supporters of a rent stabilization ordinance rally outside of Minneapolis City Council chambers, as the council convenes to vote on a draft proposal. Credit: Aaron Nesheim | Sahan Journal

In a disheartening move, the Minneapolis City Council recently made a decision that has left a sour taste in the mouths of many residents. By striking down an effort to put rent control on the November ballot, while coincidentally excluding three council members of Muslim faith who were absent to observe Eid Al-Adha, the council inadvertently committed an act of discrimination. Such a dismissive disregard for religious observance undermines the principles of inclusivity and fairness that our society should strive to uphold.

It is essential to address this issue head-on and assertively highlight the discriminatory undertones that surround this situation. The exclusion of Muslim council members, who were absent to observe an important religious holiday, is a blatant display of insensitivity. Not only does the council’s action undermine the principles of religious freedom and accommodation, but it also casts a cloud of doubt over its commitment to equal representation and fair governance.

Rent control is a crucial issue that directly impacts many Minneapolis residents struggling with rising living costs. It affects the availability and affordability of housing, thus influencing the overall social fabric of our community. By denying citizens the chance to vote on such a significant matter, the council undermines the democratic principles of participation and input from the public.

Moreover, the exclusion of council members who happened to be observing Eid Al-Adha sends a distressing message to the Muslim community. It raises questions about the sincerity of the council’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity, as well as its appreciation for the religious rights of its Muslim constituents.

Discrimination should never be tolerated, especially within the realm of local governance, where representatives are obligated to serve all residents without bias.

Minneapolis prides itself on being a diverse, multicultural city that celebrates the faiths and identities of its residents. Our local government should embody these values and foster an environment where every citizen feels heard and represented. It is crucial for the council to recognize the mistake it has made and take immediate action to rectify it by putting rent control on the November ballot.

In addition, it is imperative for the council to apologize to the Muslim community and acknowledge the adverse impact its decision had on those observing Eid Al-Adha. To rebuild trust and reaffirm its commitment to inclusivity, the council must develop clear guidelines and policies that ensure that religious observances are respected and accommodated during official proceedings and decision-making processes.

The Minneapolis City Council’s failure to put the question  of rent control on the November ballot, coinciding with the absence of three council members of Muslim faith during Eid Al-Adha, is an act of discrimination. Such actions undermine the principles of religious freedom, inclusivity, and fair governance that our society should prioritize. It is essential for the council to rectify this situation promptly. Discrimination has no place in our city, and we must demand better from our elected officials.

Chris Xiong, 30, has dedicated himself to working for social justice and equality in the Twin Cities. He has a nine-year background in community organizing and political election work.