Saturday, May 18, 2024

Islamic Call to Prayer Now Part of Minneapolis Soundscape

ResearchIslamism in PoliticsIslamic Call to Prayer Now Part of Minneapolis Soundscape

Residents of Minneapolis, Minnesota, will soon hear the Islamic call to prayer broadcasted over loudspeakers at area mosques five times a day, thanks to efforts by local Muslim lawmakers and their Islamist allies. 

On Thursday, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to alter an existing noise ordinance that limited prayer calls to three times daily, adding an early dawn and late evening recitation. The change marks a years-long effort, supported by the city council’s three Muslim members in collaboration with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN), to allow unfettered broadcasting of the adhan, or call to prayer. 

The adhan consists of language that affirms the supremacy of Allah and includes a profession of faith that, when recited with conviction, is required to convert to Islam. The call to prayer is delivered as an undulating chant characterized by long, highly embellished notes. 

“This is a historic victory for religious freedom and pluralism for our entire nation,” reads a CAIR-MN press release. “We thank the members of the Minneapolis City Council for setting this great example, and we urge other cities to follow it.”

Those city council members include Jamal Osman, who first introduced the resolution allowing public calls to prayer in 2022, arguing that the adhan was equivalent to “church bells.” Later that year, Osman drew media scrutiny for anti-gay and anti-Semitic Facebook posts, where he called Israeli Jews “dogs” and asked, “Where’s Hitler when you need him?”

Members of CAIR-MN also possess an alarming track record of intolerance and disrespect for the Jewish faith, despite asking for support from Christians and Jews during public hearings over the ordinance. For instance, Abubakar Osman, the branch’s former government affairs coordinator, once posted an expletive-laden rant calling for the return of Hitler to “add more jewish casualties to the 6 million he killed in the holocaust.”

A majority of the two dozen mosques in the city have shown little interest in broadcasting prayers – even those recited during reasonable daylight hours. Prior to Thursday’s vote, CAIR-MN claims that just two mosques have taken advantage of broadcasting the adhan, and both appear to be closely aligned with CAIR. 

The first, Dar Al Hijrah, is located next to a massive housing project in the city’s Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. The other mosque, Masjid An Nur in North Minneapolis, abuts suburban neighborhoods and is situated a couple hundred meters from a public elementary school. 

Nearby residents may hear the call to prayer as early as 4:49 in the morning.  A recording from Spring 2020, when Dar Al Hijrah received a special permit to transmit the adhan during Ramadan, features a late evening chant heard echoing off of nearby high rise buildings. 

Though few mosques are likely to take advantage of the city’s new ordinance, CAIR hopes to see similar laws adopted in other cities – even, it seems, when the local Muslims who live there are less enthusiastic about pushing the issue in their communities. 

This was the case last November in the town of Barron, Wisconsin, where local Muslims withdrew a request to permit the adhan at two local mosques after experiencing broad opposition from neighbors. CAIR-MN continued to press the issue with the city council, even as Muslim leaders expressed a desire to avoid “conflict and trouble, especially here in Barron where we Somalis are very happy now.”

Mosque leaders from Dar Al Hijrah do not plan to consult with neighbors before transmitting late night and early morning prayers. Executive Director Wali Dirie promised: “We’re going to do it the next minute.”

Benjamin Baird is the Director of MEF Action, a project of the Middle East Forum.

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