After facing down campaign attacks from a leading conservative Texas lawmaker who warned citizens in a North Texas city to “beware” of a “Muslim lawyer” candidate, attorney Salman Bhojani recently won a narrow election to become a member of the Euless City Council.
Bhojani launched Irving’s Bhojani & Nelson last year, a law firm that set out to specifically serve Muslim and South Asian business owners.
A Pakistani immigrant who came to the United States in 1999, Bhojani worked his way up as a convenience store clerk to owning four gas stations, running them while he attended Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law, from which he graduated in 2013.
The lawyer and his family moved from Bedford to Euless in 2009, a diverse Texas city made up of numerous immigrant groups that is known for its good public schools. Bhojani has served on the city’s park board for four years and made his second run at a city council seat this year after narrowly losing a race last year.
Last month, Bhojani’s race for the nonpartisan city council seat garnered media attention after Bedford Republican State Rep. Jonathan Stickland warned his followers on Facebook that Euless residents should “beware” of Bhojani, noting that he is “a Muslim, lawyer, and a lifelong Democrat who supports raising your taxes.”
Stickland, a member of the Texas Freedom Caucus in the House, then linked to a video of a foreign news broadcast about how a Muslim Boy Scout troop presented the American flag and recited from the Quran at the start of a March 2017 Euless City Council meeting. Bhojani is troop leader of the scout troop and was interviewed in a foreign language about the presentation.
It was “thanks to Mr. Bhojani,” Stickland wrote, that “the Koran was read for the first time at a city council meeting.”
Bhojani explained that the Quran passage read at the city council meeting was about respect for people of different faiths. And the media attention to his race apparently brought out enough voters on March 5 that he eked out a 37-vote victory over his opponent, Molly Maddux, a retired school teacher whom Stickland supported.
“There are enough good people out there in Euless who said this is not right. Everybody told me they were sorry and they apologized for Stickland’s posts,” Bhojani said of voters he met on Election Day. “They told me: ‘What you are doing is the American dream. You made something out of nothing and we want you to be our city council representative.’”
Stickland did not return a call for comment.
Bhojani noted that, in addition to being the body’s lone person of Muslim faith, his election will make him the only lawyer on the Euless City Council, and its only member with children.
“I’m blessed that I had this victory,” Bhojani said. “Even though I don’t look like them and I’m Muslim, I will show them I can be a good city councilman. This election has been very divisive for the city. I can represent everyone, especially the people that hate me.”
“I want this to become a tolerant community and show them that people like me will make them stronger, not weaker,’’ he said.