Hamtramck May Approve Muslim Prayer Call
Longtime residents say proposal is affront to city
Ron French, Detroit News, Apr. 20
HAMTRAMCK — Along with pierogi and paczki, Hamtramck may soon be known for its Islamic calls to worship.
The City Council is expected today to pass a noise ordinance amendment permitting mosques to issue the traditional call to prayer over loud speakers.
It’s another sign of change in this traditionally Polish community of 23,000, which has become a magnet for immigrants of all colors and creeds in recent years.
For decades, Hamtramck has been predominantly Polish. But in recent years, store signs in Polish have been joined by signs written in Bengali and Arabic.
Now, the request by the Bangladeshi al-Islah mosque for permission to air the Arabic call to prayer via loudspeakers five times a day has revealed tensions among the groups.
“They can believe whatever they want to, but I’m against them pushing their content into my head like brainwashing,” said Joanne Golen, 68, a lifelong Hamtramck resident. “There are seven mosques in the city, and I’ll be in the middle of all of them.”
The five daily calls to worship last about two minutes. The recorded calls are broadcast over loudspeakers at mosques in Dearborn, which has one of the largest concentrations of Arab-Americans in the country.
“I don’t think people in the city of Hamtramck are going to be annoyed,” said Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, based in Dearborn. “It’s not a loud noise.”
Though the calls to worship are in Arabic, Golen said she’s offended by words that praise Allah.
“He’s not my true God,” Golen said. “I can’t stay locked in my house with cotton in my ears every time they do it.”
“Hamtramck should live up to freedom of religion and religious expression, and celebrate our rich diversity and tolerance,” Hamad said.