After divisive public hearing, Paterson passes law allowing Islamic call to prayer | Paterson Times

After divisive public hearing, Paterson passes law allowing Islamic call to prayer


After a lengthy and divisive public hearing, the City Council passed an ordinance allowing the broadcast of the adhan or the Islamic call to prayer.

Council members voted 5-4 to adopt the ordinance following a more than two-hour long public hearing.

Nearly 30 people spoke at the public hearing both in favor and against the measure. Before the public hearing, councilman Shahin Khalique, who sponsored the ordinance, sent out text messages and robocalls to encourage supporters of the measure to attend the meeting.

“The Christians use the bell to call people to worship. The Jews use the shofar to call people to worship. And the Muslims use the adhan to call people to worship,” said imam A. Quddoos Farra’d of Masjid Salahuddin on Broadway.

Masjid Salahuddin has been broadcasting the call to prayer for the past half-decade without complaints from neighbors, said Farra’d, who served in the Vietnam War. “I fought for the freedom of religion.”

Farra’d said the U.S. Constitution protects his right to practice his religion.

Farra’d was among a dozen people who spoke in favor of the measure. Others, more than a dozen people, spoke out against the measure.

“I pray to God you vote against this ordinance,” said resident Stephen Bauer. He has sent emails to council members to oppose the measure.

Bauer said the ordinance is an “imposition” on the non-Muslim residents of Paterson. He faced interruptions from council president Maritza Davila and law director Farrah Irving after he attempted to tie Islam to terrorism.

Some local church leaders also spoke out against the ordinance. Last week, some pastors held a meeting to discuss the ordinance at a church. Five council members attended the meeting potentially violating the New Jersey Sunshine Law.

Council members were just as divided as the speakers during the public hearing.

“What you saw today is fear mongering. Islamophobia is alive and well. I’m sad to say it’s in the city of Paterson,” said councilman Al Abdelaziz.

“This is about being fair to everyone,” said Khalique. “If churches could ring the bells, why can’t we call the adhan?”

Council members Ruby Cotton and William McKoy pointed out some mosques have been calling the adhan without facing problems.

“We’re attempting to solve a problem that does not exist,” said McKoy, longest serving member of the City Council.

Both Cotton and McKoy said there should be more discussions before the measure is adopted. Khalique pointed out there were four public meetings to discuss the measure.

“We cannot do a law that favors any religion,” added councilman Luis Velez. He cited the Establishment Clause in the U.S. Constitution.

“It is a tough decision we’re making today. As you can see there is already division,” said Davila.

Davila voted in favor of the measure. She was joined by Abdelaziz, Flavio Rivera, Michael Jackson, and Khalique.

Cotton, McKoy, Lilisa Mimms, and Velez voted against.

Cheers erupted after the council granted final approval to the measure.

Many speakers said the measure is dividing a city that’s home to more than 50 ethnic groups.

“This is not to divide the community. I’m trying to be fair and equal. This not about my re-election,” said Khalique.

Khalique is running for re-election in two months. His critics say the measure is a ploy to burnish his image ahead of the election. Khalique suffered a blow last month when it was revealed he had been arrested for intoxicated driving by New Jersey State Police in 2010.

Several speakers suggested the council place the ordinance on the ballot for a referendum.

“This is a melting pot. I want everyone to feel at home in the city,” said Rivera. “If it’s not working, we can revisit it.”

Paterson is home to approximately 30,000 Muslims.

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  • John Brown

    The Muslim Brotherhood will now have a signal to attack.
    and Bomb the city and it's residence. Thanks 'Shitty' Council. (sarcasm)

  • Plumber

    Totally despicable

  • John

    Problem is you cannot compare a bell to muslim calls. Dont let Muslim trickery confuse you. God please help America.from extremism.

    • john

      This is going to be the tip of the sword why we didn't listen to our forefathers who tried to warn us that allowing even one Muslim to immigrate is one to many because their religions most holiest of books clearly has commands to kill all who don't believe.

  • thephoenix

    "Freedom of religion" is one thing, but perverting that phrase to impose your own crap onto indigenous non-adherents against their will is totally another, mission creep by the invaders in every sense!

  • PCS

    Councilman SHAHIN KHALIQUE. That says it all. You let them into our gov and you get BS laws like this. WAKE UP !!!!

  • Moronbasher

    Search for SHAHIN KHALIQUE on youtube and you can see for yourself how difficult it is for this man to even speak a grammatically correct sentence in English. How this man because anything let alone a councilman baffles me. These are the sort of people dictating city policies? An adaan is not like the church bell, the church bell doesn't say that Yahweh is the greatest and that Jesus is his son, its just a bell, an adman is a blaring cry that proclaims islamic superiority over non muslims, telling non muslims how allah is the only one true god. Why do muslims need a call to prayer in the age of the cell phone? Another sign of the collapse of the Western civilization.

  • Andres Rodriguez

    What will be the next order to change the clothes is incredible what is happening in paterson we have other more important priorities however they waste time and taxpayers money on secondary things

  • EHNJ

    Isn't there an app for that yet? I also wonder how the call to muslim prayer worked before the invention of electronic amplification; seems to me that they did fine for about 1300 years without it.

  • Ken D

    It's sharia creep on full display. We've seen this time and time again in every country they live in. As Islamic people are elected to positions of government they vote in support of all things Islamic. Their mission is a mission of relentless conquest.