DEARBORN, Mich. (FOX 2) - As Dearborn parents and residents sounded off on LGBTQ+ books in school libraries during a school board meeting, high profile republicans sat front and center. Their presence was a nod to the unexpected alliance of sorts between conservatives and many in the Arab American community as their interests overlap on this issue.
Among them is Michigan Attorney General candidate Matthew Deperno who said this about standing up for the U.S. Constitution.
"I think you’ll find these are people with deeply held religious beliefs. We have to stand up for the First Amendment and people's religious beliefs and I think you’re probably seeing a shift in the Republican Party," Deperno said.
Osama Sibliani, founder and editor of the Arab American News, likens this unlikely alliance to temporary marriages in Islam and, in this one, the rings will be off in weeks.
"They’re doing this because we have an election season and the republicans are lagging behind in polls, so they’re finding anything to grab on in order to get votes.
Most of those who attended Thursday night’s school board meeting were Arabic and the vast majority of them seemed opposed to having LGBTQ+ books on the library’s rolls saying they’re sexually explicit.
The crowd cheered the white Dearborn mom who brought the issue up while jeering Democrat Rashida Tlaib - the first Arab American Muslim woman elected to Congress.
"The only person that’s behind this is Rashida Tlaib. Do not vote for Rashida Tlaib!" Hassan Aoun said on Thursday night.
"What the Republican Party has done, is they stood on this issue firmly and they stood with parents firmly. We’re waiting for Democrats counterparts to also stand with us on this issue," Mike Hacham said.
Michigan Republicans sit in the front row of the Dearborn School Board meeting discussing the future of LGBTQ books in the school library.
David Dulio is a political science professor and Director of Civic Engagement at Oakland University. He thinks this union might be short-lived considering it was conservatives, by and large, that supported former President Donald Trump's Muslim ban and stoked fears of Sharia Law becoming the law of the land years before that.
"Politics can make strange bedfellows, and this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen this," Dulio said. "I could definitely see this issue and this alliance pushing Arab American turnout up simply because that community is now energized."
Hacham says what’s happening in Dearborn should put both parties on notice: The vote of ethnic and religious minorities are not given but earned.
"From African Americans to Indian Americans to Arab Americans, we have built this country and it's time that these political parties step aside and let us dictate what we want to do, not the other way around," Hacham said.
We reached out to Tlaib's campaign for comment who referenced a statement that reads, in part:
"I stand with all o fumy neighbors on the side of love and acceptance. It is unfortunate that extremists on the right have been able to set their ugly, bigoted, and well-funded hate machine on the Dearborn community like they have on many communities across the country. They are promoting lies, fear, and outrage while chanting Trump's name."
The books in question are off the shelves at the library as they undergo a review process. The district is also making it easier for parents to limit what their kids have access to in the library.