Basheer Jones’ outspoken religious beliefs are the determining factor in his candidacy

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  • Sam Allard / Stage
  • Basheer Jones speaks at the Mayor’s Forum in Jefferson Park, (7/8/21).

After his heartwarming performance at a mayors forum last week, Cleveland Ward 7 Councilor and mayoral candidate Basheer Jones appeared on the local Jeff Brown Show on Monday to elaborate on some of the themes he discussed there. Jones’ defining moment was particularly interesting, in which he criticized older local black leaders for refusing to step aside for young black leaders.

At the Jefferson Park Forum, Jones had displayed a memorable metaphor. The older black rulers, he said, “were marking on caterpillars as if the sky weren’t big enough for all the butterflies.”

And on the radio show on Monday, he uncovered another: “You have [these leaders] who are fighting for crumbs instead of making a bigger pie … Some of our elders want to die with the torch in hand instead of passing it on to the next generation so they can see. ”

Jones was careful to say that this dynamic does not apply to all local leaders. In fact, he named Marcia Fudge as a leader who served as a “political mother” and said she had raised him throughout her career. (Jones was one of many elected, including Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Chairman Shontel Brown, who attended a dinner with Fudge in May hosted by consultant Ken Dowell.)

In Monday’s interview, which is embedded below and begins around 6:15 p.m., Jones reiterated some of his political ideas, including creating a bereavement and condolence service for families of victims of violence and bringing level of technology at City Hall to improve customer service for residents and small businesses.

In general, however, his description of the “new path” he claimed to represent for Cleveland sounded a lot like the existing path, or at least a version of the existing vision: a city that can do better for business, a city that can do better for business. which should be the health capital of the world, a city where public security forces should reflect the demographics of the population and a city that makes closing the digital divide a priority.

One of the most striking elements of the interview, however, was its frequent religious undertones. For those who don’t follow Jones on social media, he’s a devout Muslim, in fact the first Muslim to serve on Cleveland City Council. He remains an openly and deeply religious figure on the election campaign, beginning virtually every new message and public appearance with gratitude to his creator.

His personal religious beliefs and organizational ties became linked to his campaign. Jones made a number of questionable campaign expenses in 2020 with international Muslim organizations and figures, including expenses likely related to his December trips to Egypt and sponsorship of a Muslim orphanage there and a Koranic school in Senegal.

A recent controversial video shows Jones saying, “Women are not our leaders.” While he argued that the excerpt was taken out of context and spoke to men in his community, empowering them to protect their wives and children, the explanation itself rested on the assumption gender roles given by God.

“The real message is that men have to become better leaders,” Jones said on the radio show Monday. “Men must assume the responsibility that God has entrusted to them. And that is to protect our families, to protect our communities.”

He said, for the record, that he personally knew that women were leaders and that this message was only addressed to a certain segment of the community.

But Jones’ religious beliefs remain central to his identity and political commitments. His words can even sometimes turn messianic, towards a conviction that his candidacy and his rise to power were divinely predestined.

Even when he doesn’t go that far, God is often on his mind and on his lips. There is an outlier in this regard. Municipal candidates are known to go to church on Sundays, especially as the election season heats up, to shake hands and bow their heads to potential voters. But very few conclude campaign talks like this:

“At the end of the day, it’s not about voting,” Jones said. “It’s not about any election. It’s really about how we come closer to our creator. My teacher said something very beautiful. He said the goal is not to to be on the way to God. It is to remove everything that blinds you to the fact that you are already in the presence of God. God is your best friend. All you have to do is talk to him.

Listen to “Ep. 140 – Guests: BK Brasco and Cleveland City Councilman Basheer Jones” on Spreaker.

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