Paterson considers update to noise ordinance to allow for Muslim call to prayer
The Paterson City Council is poised to change its noise ordinance to allow for a Muslim call to prayer to be broadcast over loudspeakers.
Islamic mosques typically make a call to prayer five times a day. These calls are confined to the inside of the mosque. But a proposed ordinance could allow a call to prayer over exterior speakers to be made between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
The call – or Adhan – broadcasted over a loudspeaker is a common part of life for Muslims in many countries.
"Some people during the day, they're working. They don't know what time it is for prayer, so that is why they have the loudspeaker - to remind people that time is now for prayer,” says Paterson resident Jamal Ahmed.
Some say that the call would be similar to church bells.
"I believe that is going to be good for the Muslim community because for the Saturday or Sunday when people want to go to church they ring the bell so that is no problem for them. So, it shouldn't be a problem for the Muslim community also,” says Esan Alton of Boonton.
Paterson Councilman Shahin Khalique proposed to the ordinance on Tuesday. Mayor Andre Sayegh says that he wants to hear from Paterson residents about the issue.
"It's something the council is considering and it's up for a public discussion [Tuesday] night,” he says. “I want to invite everyone from the public to participate in this discussion. Your voices need to be heard."
There will be two readings for the ordinance if it is approved by the City Council on Tuesday.
"There isn't anything that precludes the house of worship as far as the culture prayer concern. This is essentially updating what we have, reflecting what the state has already indicated. I believe in freedom of religion but I also answer to the public so I want to hear what our constituents have to say,” Sayegh says.
Representatives from The Council on American Islamic Relations of New Jersey say in a statement, "We applaud Paterson officials for taking this admirable step towards inclusion. Such open-mindedness will sow peace and mutual understanding between the residents of our rich and diverse communities.”
Paterson residents say that they were generally in favor of the plan. But some said that they worried about the noise disruptions in the early morning and at night.
The public meeting about the issue will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday.