A proposed ordinance before the City Council will allow mosques in Paterson to broadcast the Adhan or the Muslim call to prayer.
Under the ordinance, mosques will be allowed to use loudspeakers to announce the call to prayer during a 16-hour span. The ordinance states: “The city shall permit ‘Adhan’, call to prayer’, ‘church bells’ and other reasonable means of announcing religious meetings to be amplified between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. for duration not to exceed five minutes.”
Councilman Shahin Khalique proposed the ordinance on Tuesday night as an amendment to the existing noise control ordinance.
Council members spent three minutes discussing the measure.
Paterson has approximately 30,000 Muslims. It has a dozen mosques scattered throughout the city. Presently, mosques make the call to prayer five times a day; however, the sound is not amplified outside the buildings.
Late last year, Khalique, who is up for reelection in May, promised local leaders he planned to introduce the measure modeled on an ordinance in effect in Hamtramck, Mich. At the time, Khalique said he had been in discussions with other members of the City Council to get the measure passed.
Khalique has styled himself as a pious and devout Muslim amongst his mostly Bengali-American supporters. He suffered a blow to his image earlier in the month when it was revealed he had been arrested for intoxicated driving by New Jersey State Police in 2010.
Council members will consider the measure for preliminary approval next Tuesday.