Paterson grants preliminary approval to measure allowing Islamic call to prayer | Paterson Times

Paterson grants preliminary approval to measure allowing Islamic call to prayer


An ordinance allowing mosques to broadcast the adhan or Islamic call to prayer received preliminary approval from the City Council on Tuesday night.

Council members voted 7-0-2 to approve a revised noise ordinance presented by councilman Shahin Khalique. The ordinance states, “Calls to prayer, including the Adhan, are exempt from the noise ordinance.” A previous iteration of the ordinance allowed calls to prayer from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The revised ordinance does not include a time restriction.

Khalique’s introduction of the measure last week led to a large number of phone calls, text messages, and emails to council members from people opposed to the measure.

Council president Maritza Davila said she was inundated with emails and text messages. “The amount of things I saw on social media was so sad. It truly was disheartening,” she said.

“There’s a lot of controversy going on out there,” said Khalique. He attacked mayor Andre Sayegh for encouraging people to appear before the council to give their opinion on the ordinance.

Sayegh struck a neutral tone on the issue. He has refused to take sides on the ordinance that Khalique’s critics say is a ploy by the 2nd Ward councilman to burnish his image ahead of the May municipal elections. Khalique suffered a blow earlier in the month when it was revealed he had been arrested for intoxicated driving by New Jersey State Police in 2010.

Khalique said the call to prayer amounts to 15 minutes in total a day. He argued ice cream trucks and vans spreading political messages make noise hours on end. “The decibel level is not changing. I don’t see anybody having any issues with this ordinance.”

Municipal officials said the call to prayer still has to adhere to existing decibel limits. Officials said the adhan cannot exceed 80 decibels.

“This ordinance here has taken a nasty turn that I’ve never seen in the city of Paterson. We all rave about the diversity; we all rave about how welcoming our city is, but when push comes to shove, I saw a lot of people’s true colors,” said councilman Al Abdelaziz. “This ordinance has been masked as some sort of takeover by the Muslim community when it’s not.”

Abdelaziz said the measure adds religious exemptions to the noise ordinance for temples, churches, and mosques. The measure lists “bells, chimes, or carillons” used for religious services.

“It’s a call to prayer for everyone,” said Abdelaziz. “This is not a Muslim thing. It’s an exemption for all religious institutions.”

“That could be striken if it’s a call to prayer for all,” said councilwoman Lilisa Mimms pointing to the word “adhan” in the ordinance. She said she is not opposed to the measure and has good ties to the city’s Muslim community.

Some council members questioned the need for the ordinance.

Councilwoman Ruby Cotton said Masjid Salahuddin on Broadway has been making its calls to prayer for decades.

“I couldn’t understand why we needed to do this if they were not having problems from law enforcement or anything like that,” said Cotton. She represents the area where Masjid Salahuddin is located. She has never received a complaint over the adhan from residents, she said.

Davila said the mosque could have received a ticket.

“In another city, they probably would have been ticketed,” added councilman Flavio Rivera.

“We’re solving a problem that didn’t exist until now,” added councilman William McKoy.

Councilman Luis Velez suggested the measure violates the U.S. Constitution. He read out loud the First Amendment which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Law director Farrah Irving said the ordinance before the council mimics existing New Jersey law.

Velez said the measure is dividing Patersonians against each other. Paterson is home of 52 different ethnic groups. Its Muslim community is approximately 30,000 strong.

“The last thing I want to do is divide this community because of religion,” said Velez. He said Khalique’s initial ordinance threw people off.

Roughly two dozen people appeared at the council meeting over the issue. Several people spoke in favor of the measure while one spoke against it.

“Why are you forcing me to hear it?” asked Michael Camacho, a lifelong Paterson resident, referring to the call to prayer.

“As a Muslim, I should be able to call the adhan,” said Al-Hajj Ibrahim Hanif, who is the muezzin at Masjid Salahuddin. Muezzin is the person that makes the call to prayer at a mosque. He said ticketing an organization for calling the adhan amounts to trampling on people’s freedom of religion.

Council members Abdelaziz, Cotton, Michael Jackson, Khalique, Mimms, Rivera, and Davila voted in favor while McKoy and Velez abstained.

“We’ve taken something that is very innocent and simple and made it extremely complex,” said Jackson.

Public hearing and adoption of the ordinance is scheduled for Mar. 10 at City Hall.

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  • Ali Erikenoglu

    I have no problem with residents of Paterson celebrating our rich diversity. For over 50 years I've been hearing church bells around here. As a Muslim, I've never had any problem with this.

    • DemocrapSocialistsSuck

      The difference is Christians won't cut your head off over a cartoon..

      • Unc


    • https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/date-set-for-new-inquest-into-ballymurphy-massacre-1.3624498 Irish aontaigh

      4 times a day, everyday????? Not bloody likely

    • John

      A muslim being here for 50 years. Wow you must have been the first. Dont try to trick dumb people with your wicked mentality that they are just like bells.. this is western civilization, this country was founded with western ideas not on extremism. Keep your Koran to yourself or if you dont like it then go back.

    • pokaher

      as well as you shouldn’t. America was founded on the basis of christian religion. Please do not compare bells to the muslim call for prayer. Go back to your country if you feel offended by the christian bell. Practice your religion without announcing it to the citizens. Their are many beautiful muslim countries where the Bell is NOT allow to be rang!

      When my family came to this country, they adopted to the american way of life. Not to come here and continue their way of living back home!

  • Marilyn Frierson

    Why doesn't Shahin Khalique ask his council
    person where he lives, on Ratzer Rd. in Wayne, NJ for the same ordinance? There's gotta be an app for that!

  • https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/date-set-for-new-inquest-into-ballymurphy-massacre-1.3624498 Irish aontaigh

    When the locals start complaining due to it being everyday…and Muslim start stopping and praying in the streets, things may get tense!

  • John

    When was the last time someone blew themselves up in the name of Jesus? NEVER Now the same question but in the name of Allah? Just today. Wake up Amercians

  • John

    Dont let.these Muslims use their naturally born instinct trickery. There is no comparesment between a bell and preaching their stuff.

  • Hillclimber

    Posturing & demonstration of Islamic supremacy is what this has always been.
    Fifty+ Muslim majority countries.
    Relocate your mosque and live happily ever after in a place that enforces sharia law.

  • shakib alam

    Alhamdulillah, All Praise be to God,
    How many times have Muslims heard the call to church bells yet they remain quite and patient. No one bat an eye. Now, the Paterson community shall hear the call of God to pray and be in his remembrance.
    P.s. Haters will hate but this is America. Our diversity and freedom of religion makes us the greatest country in the world. God Bless America

  • Andres Rodriguez


  • John

    All should be allowed to pray. However a bell should not be used into tricking Patersonians into believing this ordinance is the same. This is a Muslim movement. Pray all you want, it's a great thing but.I dont have to hear this all day. This is America, not Suria. Turkey, Iran. And by the way if this ordinance was being pushed by another religion other then the Muslims I would also be against it, no matter what religion

  • John

    Vote out all who voted to violate Patersonians rights. Paterson is already a hellhole, you didn't have to make it worse.