Long, loud, and freaking early


Mosque on 4th My clock said about 5:04AM when the call to prayer started blasting. I thought the earliest couldn't be before 5:30 or something but a quick look says today's prayers could start at 5:10AM. My alarm doesn't go off until 6 something. Normally, if the speakers at the mosque on 4th St aren't cranked to what seems to be 11 on the dial, and if they are a few phrases, I can quickly get back to sleep. However this morning whomever was doing the call, was loud, and spent a good amount of time vocalizing before getting to the familar "Allah Akbar" part.

Most of the time, the sounds of the call to prayer are pleasant and add character to the neighborhood. Yet the calls are not consistant when going out on the loudspeakers that can be heard at least 2 blocks away. It is not a recording.


I have spoken, written and called the:
1. The mosque - who asks when it was loud and does nothing or tells me that they can preach whole sermons on the loudspeaker.
2. Thomas Bradley's office - who says they are exempt from noise issues.
3. Anita Bond of the ANC - who initially did respond and agreed the speaker level was a problem and that there were decibel limits they should follow and went out and measured the speaker, but at later complaints from me she has never responded. They have to catch the prayer call when it is going on.
4. Mayor's office - Dawn Slonneger, never responded back to me.
5. Mayor's office - put me in contact with the police department
6. Mayor's office - told mosque about my complaint and the mosque's attorney wanted to speak to me about their religious freedom in this country.
7. The police department, Sgt. James Meagher Executive Office of the Chief of Police (customerservice.mpd2@dc.gov), who says they are exempt from the early and late nature of these prayer calls, but I could do civil litagation or The Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division (Multi-Door) which helps parties settle disputes through mediation and other types of appropriate dispute resolution (ADR), including arbitration, case evaluation and conciliation.
8. Captain Grogran of the police department - says they are exempt from noise rules.
9. A resident who lives across the street from the mosque - He said that he also had noise issues with the church next to him on New Jersey Ave and that he received help from Kwame Brown who did get the noise problem from the church (not the mosque) resolved and was told that there are noise limits the Mosque should follow.

So, I have pretty much given up on trying to get the mosque to routinely follow noise guidelines. Unless more than one person complains I do not see anything ever changing. The mosque and the process have broken my spirit.

During the call to prayer yesterday I called the mosque to ask about the settings on the speaker. A woman answered the phone who seemed pleasant. I asked her about how the speaker settings are managed and if they knew what the speaker limits were supposed to be and could I speak with the person in charge of making those settings. The woman told me "no one there knows the settings and that they turn the volume up and down depending on the time of the day." I asked if no one knows the decibel limits how do they know where to set the speaker. She said she had been there a number of years and that is how it has always been done.

I then asked her if she felt it was okay for me to hear the speaker from the mosque in my home with my windows closed over the traffic noise, my tv and the fans roaring in my home. She was now clearly irritated and she said "yes that was acceptable and that it was not for a very long period of time." I then asked her why they are speaking full sermons over the speaker and she hung up on me.

Again, knocking my head against the wall expecting to get a different answer. It leaves me annoyed.

I am like you in that I wish they would keep the level at a particular setting and leave it there, hopefully a low setting not heard off their property. Below is a response I got from the Police regarding the litigation issue, not that I am wanting to do that, I just want some sense they want to listen to neighborhood concerns. I will look into the other mosque issue you mentioned.

"Good afternoon -

it appears that the actions of the Mosque fall within the guidelines previously mentioned by Captain Grogran. But, you still may have some sort of recourse through civil litigation which falls outside of the Metropolitan Police Department. Another avenue you may wish to contact is the Multi-Door Resolution Center which falls under DC Superior Court. Please visit their website at the following link, http://www.dccourts.gov/dccourts/superior/multi/index.jsp We have used them in many situations and they are very helpful in solving neighborhood disputes. They also may be able to advise you on what you can do on a civil litigation case.

I am sorry that i could not be of more assistance.

Sgt. James Meagher
Executive Office of the Chief of Police"

Leave a comment