By Patch Editor Kaitlin Glanzer
When South Windsor residents cast their votes for Dr. Saud Anwar, electing him the town’s next mayor, they likely were choosing the soft-spoken doctor and humanitarian who votes his conscience and urged the Town Council not to raise taxes when residents were struggling and families lived in the homeless shelter.
They likely were not considering that they would make history by electing the first Muslim mayor in Connecticut.
“They’re looking for the person who is going to do the best job for them with the priorities that they feel are important to them,” Anwar said Friday by phone.
Still, that South Windsor has embraced Anwar says much about them and about the United States.
“We live in the best country in the world …where everyone and anyone who follows the law is respected and can help make the country better,” Anwar said.
“The people of South Windsor are very caring, embracing individuals who respect people of all backgrounds, so my being elected is more about the people of South Windsor and less about me.”
The first Muslim mayor in the United States was Charles Bilal, of Kountze, Texas, elected in 1991. Since then there have been a handful throughout the country and, though no definitive answer is readily available, there is speculation Anwar is the first in New England.
“There certainly has not been anyone in Connecticut to my knowledge,” said Aida Mansoor, president of the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut.
Mansoor, offering her congratulations, said Anwar, a Yale-educated pulmonologist, has a history of serving people in many capacities, including in interfaith relations in Connecticut andoutreach to Haiti.
“He represents who he is - someone who cares for the community and feels strongly about being an American and a Muslim and that’s something we should be very proud of,” she said.
The Muslim and Pakistani communities are proud of Anwar, and so too, are many in South Windsor.
When the Anwar family, including wife Dr. Yusra Anwar and their children, Taha and Taseen, were honored by the Anti-Defamation League, many offered the family congratulations.
On Patch, Richard Aries said “The many examples of altruism and compassion that our Town has been fortunate to both observe and receive from the Anwar family over several years makes me proud to live in South Windsor… Thank you, Dr. Anwar and family, for giving all of us a vision of a better future.”
Dr. Anwar, looking forward to his tenure as mayor, expresses hope of that better future for a town that has recently been politically divided.
“Recognizing the diversity in our school system, where 25-35 percent of our children are of minority background, it’s important we look at our community as one community with various different backgrounds and strengths and start to learn from each other and work together.
“We are one nation indivisible and that’s what we have to keep reminding ourselves. The background of everyone makes us special but we can’t use that ever to divide ourselves.”
Read Anwar’s biographical information on the South Windsor town website here.