3 Mich. Senate democrats call for candidate to quit Senate race

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Three state Senate democrats want a Plymouth psychiatrist to quit his campaign for state Senate after allegations surfaced that the fellow-Democrat abused his wife in the late 1980s.

In a joint statement, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, Sen. David Knezek and Sen. Curtis Hertel called for Dr. Ghulam Qadir to end his campaign for state Senator in Michigan's 7th district in light of "disturbing and severe allegations." 

Hertel, an East Lansing Democrat who represents Michigan's 23rd district, said he met last week with Qadir to tell him "my advice would be to suspend his campaign and that I could not support him.”

The abuse allegations are false, said Qadir, who is chief executive officer of Apex Behavioral Health in Dearborn and former chief of psychiatry at Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center. 

Qadir said the allegations are being used by Democrats to discredit him because they prefer a white female candidate to a Muslim immigrant. Qadir is running against Livonia Democrat Dayna Polehanki in the August primary.

“I do not intend to leave,” Qadir said. “If the voters vote me out, that’s fine. But I will not give in to those tactics.”

First reported by the Michigan Information & Research Service, a large portion of the allegations against Ghulam Qadir stem from a January 1990 request made by his then-wife, Shirin Qadir, in Oakland County Circuit Court for a restraining order against her husband.

The order was granted, according to court records, but dismissed later that year because Ghulam Qadir had not been served the complaint within 182 days of its filing.

The complaint alleges “a pattern of continual physical abuse and harassment” dating back to 1986 that at times led to calls to police, a hospital visit, an attempt by Ghulam Qadir to have his wife committed for psychiatric hospitalization and threats to send the couple’s three children to Qadir’s native Pakistan.

The court records include allegations that Ghulam Qadir, fearful his wife might scratch a plate on which she was cutting bread, grabbed her by the neck, “choking her, blocking her windpipe, hitting Plaintiff’s face, neck and back, and repeatedly smashing Plaintiff’s head against the kitchen counter….”

"I have that much anger that I feel like killing you," Ghulam Qadir told his wife, according to court records. 

The incident on Oct. 20, 1989, prompted a call to Bloomfield Township police and a visit to Henry Ford Hospital Emergency Center, according to court records.  

Police observed “several bumps and bruises” on Shirin Qadir's face, redness on her neck and upper back, and “2 large contusions one on each cheek,” according to police report excerpts submitted with the restraining order. The report contains testimony from at least one of the couple's sons corroborating his mother’s story.

Ghulam Qadir was arrested by police and released later that night on personal bond. His wife told police the next day that she didn’t want to press charges, according to court records.

"I was fearful for my life," Shirin Qadir told The Detroit News on Wednesday. "I’m from a Third World country and I was dependent on him and I had young children.”

On Wednesday, Ghulam Qadir denied ever hurting his wife.

“I’m the most mild-mannered person,” he told The Detroit News. “I have no violent streak in me.”

Ghulam Qadir filed for divorce from his wife twice before going through with the divorce in 1997. He said his wife of 18 years, whom he married in Pakistan before coming to the U.S., was mentally ill, would inflict wounds on herself, “make up stuff and call the police.”

“There are men who suffer silently who never say anything because they’ll never get anywhere,” Ghulam Qadir said. “I was one of those.”

He said Democrats are using the allegations to shift support toward his Democratic opponent: "The agenda from the beginning has been that."

Hertel said Qadir’s belief that Democrats are using the incident to garner votes for Polehanki is “ridiculous.”

“This has nothing to do with any of that,” Hertel said. “I have been neutral in the election until these specific allegations. I certainly believe them credible enough that he should suspend his campaign.”

In a statement Wednesday, Polehanki said the "disturbing" allegations against Ghulam Qadir should disqualify him from serving in public office and she pledged to be a "champion for survivors of domestic violence."


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