Sugar Land doctor among first 2 Muslim Americans elected to Texas state legislature

Sugar Land doctor among first 2 Muslim Americans elected to Texas state legislature

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) — This year’s midterm elections generated a number of historic firsts in American politics. For the first time in the history of the Texas State Legislature, voters elected not one but two Muslim lawmakers to sit on Capitol Hill.

One of them is Dr. Suleman Lalani, a practicing physician in geriatric care in the Fort Bend County area for over 17 years.

Lalani came to the United States in the early 1990s after completing his medical degree in his native Pakistan. He completed his residency in internal medicine in New York and his fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine. He eventually settled in Sugar Land after getting married and having three sons.

He operated a traditional practice behind Sugar Land Town Center and Houston Methodist Hospital Sugar Land Hospital for nearly two decades. While serving in different community and nonprofit organizations, Lalani said that was where his interest in politics began. His campaign slogan was the “Right Prescription for Texas.”

“I was an ambassador to the United States Congress for the Alzheimer’s Association. That’s where I got a taste for legislation and passing bills. America is a land of opportunity. But I realized very quickly that we were very poor when it came to health care. The most hurtful part of being a doctor was when I knew there was a treatment or a cure, but my patient couldn’t get it. allow,” he said.

“I thought if I could get into legislation and pass some good laws, we could change this generation. A good and healthy society is a productive society,” he added.

Two years ago, he decided to close his practice and move into long-term care, where he tours several nursing homes. He said the change allowed him to have a more flexible schedule that accommodated the time commitment required to run for office. He won the House District 76 seat on his second try.

The issues Lalani said he is focusing on are health care, education and recovery from COVID-19, equitable economic recovery, grid protection and environmental sustainability.

Lalani’s victory, along with that of Salman Bhojani in House District 92 in Tarrant County, is significant for a state legislature that has not always embraced its Muslim community. According to the Texas Tribune, former senator Dan Patrick boycotted the first-ever Senate prayer by a Muslim cleric in 2007. Patrick now chairs the Senate as lieutenant governor after being re-elected nearly two weeks ago.

The Texas Tribune also reported that in recent years, the annual Texas Muslim Capitol Day, when Muslims from across the state visit the Capitol to learn about state government, has sparked protests. . In 2017, more than a thousand supporters formed a human shield around Muslim visitors to protect them from protesters.

The newspaper wrote that in 2015, then-state Representative Molly White left instructions for her staff to ask Muslim visitors to come to her office on Texas Muslim Capitol Day to declare allegiance. in the USA.

Lalani told ABC13 that he hopes his presence on Capitol Hill will make Texas’ Muslim community feel more welcome, included and represented.

“Better late than never. One thing I believe is that ignorance leads to fear, which leads to anger and then to hate. We are here to learn from each other. We have so much in common . We have to focus on what our strengths are, and that’s where we lean on each other,” he said. “As a doctor, when someone comes to me to take care of his illness, I do not ask him what his race or religion is. I want to bring the same spirit to the legislature.”

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