US mosque in prayer row

A Bangladeshi mosque in the United States has stirred up a controversy by requesting official permission to broadcast daily calls to prayer over loudspeakers.

    Mosque elders want to broadcast calls to prayer over loudspeakers

    The request from the mosque in the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck has drawn conflicting responses from some residents of Hamtramck, a once-Polish enclave in the state of Michigan that has recently welcomed waves of immigrants from Bosnia, Pakistan, Yemen and Bangladesh.

    The simmering controversy boiled over late Tuesday when the members of the Hamtramck City Council gathered to consider an amendment to the town's noise ordinance that would authorise the five-times daily call to prayer.

    Objections

    "I object to the content of the Arabic call to prayer…" said Hamtramck native Bob Golen. "A US citizen should not be subjected to the tenets of someone else's religion."

    Abd Allah al-Ghazali, a local businessman, said he and other Muslims "are citizens of this country, too."

    When al-Ghazali recited the call to prayer in Arabic, some in the crowd shouted "talk American" and "speak English."

    At several times during the contentious hearing, council president Karen Majewski called for civility.

    "We have the eyes of the nation upon us and I hope we act appropriately," he said.

    Authorisation

    Officials expect the measure to be approved at a meeting next week, authorising mosques and churches to broadcast "calls to prayer" and "church bells" between 6 am and 10 pm for a period of no longer than five minutes.

    Councilman Shahab Ahmad, the first Muslim to be elected to the body, said the row had elicited some visceral anti-Muslim reactions, including the comment that "Islam is spreading across the US like a cancer".

    A Muslim physician walked out the hearing shaking his head and said, "I never knew they hated us so much."

    Another local, Gabriel al-Aziz, said he was "blown away by the level of intolerance I see here".

    SOURCE: Agencies


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