Time out for Allah

The Hamtranck controversy
Allahu akbar—“God is great!” Thus begins the sonorous Arabic chant that is worrying the citizens of Hamtramck, a mostly immigrant urban community of 23,000 near Detroit. In April the Hamtramck City Council voted unanimously to amend a noise ordinance so that the al-Islah Islamic Center, one of seven mosques that serve a growing Muslim population in what was once a Polish Catholic enclave, can broadcast the call to prayer five times a day by loudspeaker. As of this writing, however, opposition from some longtime residents may silence the loudspeaker until the matter is brought to a citywide vote. Meanwhile, white supremacist groups on the outside are making Hamtramck a cause célèbre, and unfortunately there is no noise ordinance to silence their fear-mongering.


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