NJ city may not need law allowing Muslim call to prayer, official says
PATERSON — A proposal that would allow mosques to amplify public prayer announcements as part of a religious announcement exemption to the city's noise regulations is headed toward final approval amid mixed reaction.
The adhan, or Islamic call to prayer, is delivered five times daily "as an integral part of the Muslim faith."
City Councilman Shahin Khalique last month introduced changes to existing noise regulations. The proposal does not change the volume at which such religious announcements can be made in the community.
Church bells also fall into the category of religious announcements based on the language of the ordinance.
Councilman Luis Velez said Tuesday to New Jersey 101.5 that the change was not really necessary, as houses of worship already are free to practice as they see fit.
Velez said city, state and federal law do not condemn such call to prayer, so "Why fix something that’s not broken?”
He said he's never heard of any police or ticketing issues for city mosques making the scheduled calls to prayer.
Velez also said as a strong "believer in faith," he's "not here to divide the community based on religion."
As reported by Paterson Press, Councilman Al Abdelaziz at the Feb. 25 council meeting said public reaction to the proposed ordinance had taken “a nasty turn," as opponents appeared to treat it "as some sort of takeover by the Muslim community, when it’s not.”
The negative reaction appeared to be in various shares of the proposed changes by individuals on social media, including Facebook.
Neither Abdelaziz nor Khalique returned a Monday request for comment.
After receiving initial approval last month, the amended ordinance is slated for a public hearing March 10.
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