HAMTRAMCK “” A controversial noise ordinance allowing a mosque to broadcast daily Islamic calls to prayer over loud speakers is set to go into effect Wednesday.
But it probably won’t go into effect because of a petition protesting the ordinance.
But it probably won’t matter because the mosque plans to broadcast the calls to prayer anyway.
Confused? The Hamtramck City Council will try to sort through the mess Tuesday in the latest round of what is becoming a lesson in democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Leaders of the Al-Islah Islamic Center asked the council for permission to broadcast calls to prayer “” a centuries-old tradition in Islam. A prayer is sung five times a day to invite Muslims to pray. They”re often broadcast by loud speaker in predominantly Muslim countries, but are seldom broadcast in the United States.
The council wrote and approved an amendment to the city”s noise ordinance, sparking waves of outrage from Christian groups across the country that claimed Hamtramck was giving special rights to Muslims.
Last week, citizens turned in petitions with an estimated 630 signatures asking that the noise ordinance amendment be suspended. If 552 of the signatures are certified by the city clerk’s office, then the council Tuesday will be required to reconsider the amendment.
The council could vote down the amendment “” which seems unlikely “” because the amendment has passed unanimously several times.
If the council votes to approve the amendment, it still doesn’t go into effect. Instead, the amendment would be put on hold until it can be put on a ballot for city voters to consider.
All the political gyrations may not matter.
Masud Kahn, the associate imam of the mosque, said the mosque will begin the calls to prayer Friday, as planned, no matter what happens with the petition and the council.
Kahn and council President Karen Majewski say the mosque didn’t need the city”s permission to broadcast the calls to prayer in the first place.
Because the mosque is a religious institution and because it is broadcasting from its own property, the city has no control over the calls to prayer beyond regulations contained in the noise ordinance.