CBS46 talks with Sheikh Rahman, state's first Muslim lawmaker

There are a lot of faces on the walls and chiseled into the statues of the Georgia State Capitol but none of them loo...

Posted: Jun 8, 2018 3:57 PM
Updated: Jun 8, 2018 3:57 PM

There are a lot of faces on the walls and chiseled into the statues of the Georgia State Capitol but none of them look quite like Sheikh Rahman, the first Muslim lawmaker in Georgia history.

Rahman, from Bangladesh, is the new state-senator elect from Gwinnett County. Rahman was elected over the incumbent with 68 percent of the vote. He's running unopposed in November.

"I think it's important as an immigrant we should have a voice and we cannot do anything from the outside," Rahman told CBS46 News. "We've got to have the power and we've got to have a seat at the table. So, that's what I bring in. A seat at the table."

Political observers say the demographic shift they're seeing in Gwinnett County is also coming to a town near you.

Part of Rahman's job was to motivate what he calls the "forgotten" voters who feel disenfranchised, a strategy being replicated by Democrats all over the state.

"They lost confidence in the system. They think my vote don't count. My number one job was to tell them, 'No, your vote counts. You're going to be counted. I'm representing you, the forgotten people.' That's the folks I went after," continued Rahman.

Rahman was part of a lawsuit accusing Gwinnett County lawmakers of gerrymandering a state house district to dilute its growing minority population.

"Just changing the district because the legislature has the power to do it and I thought that was wrong and we could have elected a couple of years ago as a minority people of color in that particular district," said Rahman.

But the new state senator says Gwinnett County will ultimately lead the way as an unstoppable juggernaut that diversity is bringing to Georgia.

"We want to set an example you can be in Gwinnett County and you can be in Georgia and people like me immigrant from Bangladesh can still get elected in the state of Georgia."

Rahman knows he's going to have a fight on his hands when he takes office. One of his top priorities is trying to protect the rights of the dreamers, the illegal immigrants who face the ongoing threat of deportation.

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