Minneapolis (Caasimada Online) – A recent amendment in Minneapolis permitting mosques to broadcast the Adhan, or call to prayer, at any hour has led to increased tension and attacks on local mosques, sparking widespread concern among Muslim residents.
Despite these incidents, community members remain committed to practicing their faith openly and are working to ensure their safety.
In a landmark move this April, Minneapolis became the first major American city to allow mosques to broadcast the Adhan around the clock publicly.
Previously, a city noise ordinance permitted broadcasts only between 7 am and 10 pm, interfering with the traditional Islamic practice of commencing the first prayer, Fajr, before sunrise and the last, Isha, after sunset.
The Muslim community welcomed the modification, including Wali Dirie, the Islamic Civic Society of America executive director, and the Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque.
“Three years ago, his mosque was the first to obtain permission to broadcast all five calls to prayer during Ramadan,” said Dirie.
Rising Islamophobia and Mosque attacks
Despite the city council unanimously passing the change, the decision has not been without controversy.
Since the rule alteration, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul have seen an alarming spike in mosque and community center attacks, with some attributing these incidents to a backlash against the new law.
70-year-old congregant, Sareedo Abdi, voiced fears that her mosque could be the next target: “We feel it’s Islamophobia.” This sentiment is echoed by many Muslims who feel targeted in the aftermath of the ordinance change.
In response to the attacks, the Muslim community has sought the assistance of the Democratic governor, Tim Walz, and mayors of Minneapolis and St Paul, as well as various police departments.
The community is working to bolster mosque security, including installing surveillance cameras.
State Attorney General Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to hold this position, has also pledged to tackle hate crimes in the region.
This determination is mirrored in the community, with a shared resolve to persevere. As Wali Dirie puts it, “We’re not going to stop, and we’ll work with law enforcement.”
Minneapolis: A Muslim stronghold
Minneapolis, long known for its Democratic leanings, is home to one of the largest Somali-American populations in the United States.
The Minnesota Compass, a nonprofit, estimates that over 70,000 Somali Americans live in the Twin Cities. They worship at about 30 mosques, 22 of which are in Minneapolis.
The city council unanimously passed the change during Ramadan, including three Muslim members among its 13. In 2018, Ilhan Omar became the first Somali American elected to Congress, symbolizing a significant milestone for the Muslim community.
However, challenges persist. Recent data from the FBI reveals a 12% increase in hate crimes across America in 2021, with an even higher surge in Minnesota, up nearly 40%.
Aisha Chughtai, a 25-year-old council member and the youngest in the council’s history, attributes the attacks on mosques to a rise in white supremacist beliefs.
“Being Muslim in this country, being Jewish in this country, being Black in this country, being a person of color in this country, being an immigrant in this country, means that you experience discrimination, racism, and violence in all aspects of life,” she said.
Despite the current challenges, Minneapolis’s Muslim community remains steadfast in its faith and committed to coexistence.
Ahmed Jamal, who often delivers the call to prayer, remains undeterred by the threats: “When I am calling, it makes me feel so happy.”