View Full Version : Muslim mosques be able to broadcast daily calls to prayer.

04-22-04, 09:51 AM


CALL TO TOLERANCE: Hamtramck should not silence part of Muslims' faith

April 20, 2004

As the area's premier community of immigrants, Hamtramck surely should be tolerant of different cultures. But in this city where church bells regularly ring, some residents are up in arms over a request that the city's five Muslim mosques be able to broadcast daily calls to prayer.

The City Council can cut through the din tonight and amend its noise ordinance to let the calls be heard.

There should be no room for religious intolerance in this multicultural city, where two-thirds of the public school students speak a language other than English at home. That's the beauty of the melting pot that America is supposed to be, and that Hamtramck has actually managed to become. But like residents who move to the exurbs or rural areas, then cry "no more development," Hamtramck's denizens want to say "no more religions."

Ironically, many of them are crying religious freedom as they seek to stop the measure. They criticize the calls to prayer as proselytizing and forcing the Muslim religion on Christians. First of all, the calls to prayer will be in Arabic, so they will reach only those who speak the language. And second, they are designed to remind followers that it is time to pray, not encourage those who do not believe in Allah to convert. Church bells don't turn Muslims or Jews into Christians; there's no reason to think the Muslim call to prayer will undermine other faiths.

Arguments for preservation of the town's Eastern European culture, too, ring hollow. The city has welcomed residents of other backgrounds, perfectly satisfied to reap the benefits of an increased tax base and rightly recognizing that America is not homogeneous. To say now Muslim residents should keep their religion to themselves is ungracious at best, and more like discrimination.

Residents may have room to quibble over such things, but leaders need to see what's right. In this case, that would be changing the noise ordinance to allow Muslim calls to prayer.