NY: Muslim Call to Prayer Gets Complaints


NY: CALLING THE FAITHFUL AND GETTING COMPLAINTS

The Masjid Nur al-Islam mosque, on Church Avenue in Kensington, Brooklyn, is a humble two-story brick structure with a green and white sign in Arabic and English. Amid the auto body shops and the Mexican and Middle Eastern restaurants that populate its low-slung corner of the neighborhood, the building barely stands out -- except for the sounds that emanate, four times a day, from a small gray bullhorn mounted on the edge of its roof.

A little before 12:30 p.m. and again at 3, 5:30 and 7:15, the speaker broadcasts Muslim calls to prayer that the faithful consider essential, but that some neighbors, who have complained for years, say are just too loud. These residents renewed their complaints at a recent meeting of the Dahill Neighborhood Association attended by the police captain in charge of the 66th Precinct, Peter DeBlasio. The meeting was reported in Flatbush Life, a local newspaper.

Ivan Selzer, co-president of the neighborhood group, said in an interview that in response to previous entreaties, the mosque had lowered the volume, but that the noise had recently gotten worse.

And he emphasized that his group's objections to the mosque, which serves a large Bangladeshi and Pakistani community, were narrowly focused. ''This is not coming from any radical place, or anti-anything,'' Mr. Selzer said. ''This is coming from, it's just a lot of noise.''

Early one afternoon last week, Mohamed Elshenawy, an imam at the mosque, stood at a microphone on the building's second floor and, in a sonorous voice, intoned Arabic words over the loudspeaker that translate, in part, to: ''God is the greatest. There is no god except God. Muhammad is the messenger of God. Come to prayer. Come to salvation.''

A short time later, Mr. Elshenawy said he was aware of few complaints about noise, though he acknowledged that a police officer had visited the mosque in connection with the matter. Out of consideration for neighbors, he added, the mosque does not amplify a fifth, early-morning call to prayer, but he said that if the other calls were not loud enough for local Muslims to hear, they would be the ones complaining.

 


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