Apr 12, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Minneapolis to make history with Muslim call to prayer action

Minneapolis allowed the public broadcasting of the call to prayer early in the pandemic. Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Minneapolis is poised to allow mosques to broadcast Muslim prayer calls five times a day.

Why it matters: This change would make Minneapolis the first major U.S. city to explicitly allow the full set of broadcasts all year, according to the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN).

Driving the news: The city council will vote Thursday on an ordinance that would expand when the prompts to pray, known as adhans, can be played via outdoor speakers.

State of play: Local mosques can already use amplified sound to play the announcements between 7am and 10pm.

Yes, but: Religious leaders say the time restrictions curtailed the reminders for early morning prayers, per the Star Tribune. Evening prayers were also left out for much of the year.

  • The proposed ordinance would change that by removing language restricting the amplified sound overnight from city code.

Zoom out: Public broadcasts of the adhan are common in Muslim-majority nations but remain rare in the U.S.

  • The Detroit suburbs of Dearborn and Hamtramck and Paterson, New Jersey have practices and policies similar to the one proposed in Minneapolis.

What they're saying: CAIR-MN executive director Jaylani Hussein told Axios the change "sends a message to the world that freedom of religion is practiced here."

  • He hopes to see other U.S. cities follow Minneapolis' lead.

What to expect: Hussein said he anticipates that three to four local mosques, including one at a popular Somali mall, will join the two that already regularly broadcast the adhan once the ordinance takes effect.

Flashback: Minneapolis temporarily allowed around-the-clock prayer call broadcasts in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in 2020, when the pandemic prevented Muslim residents from going to the mosque in person during Ramadan.

What's next: Mayor Jacob Frey supports the proposal and intends to sign if it passes the council, a spokesperson told Axios.

Go deeper: An increasing number of U.S. school districts now observe Ramadan

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