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Somali-Americans drop request for amplified prayer call after opposition in northwestern Wisconsin city

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BARRON — Somali-American residents in Barron have withdrawn a request to play an amplified call to prayer from two mosques after facing opposition from some community members.

Barron, a town of about 3,400, is home to some 470 Somali refugees and their families, many of them drawn to work at a Jennie-O turkey processing plant.

Wisconsin Public Radio reported that Isaak Mohamed, a Somali-American who was elected to the city's common council this spring, brought the call-to-prayer request to the council at the request of residents. But during a public comment period at the council's Nov. 15 meeting, all 14 speakers opposed it, WPR reported.

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"The Barron locals showed up, you know, talking about negative things, saying, 'Go back to Somalia if you want to practice religion or worship," Mohamed told WPR. "I mean, that was very offensive to me and to the community that I represent, that I am a voice for because we are Americans."

Mohamed said an agreement was made to withdraw the request after speaking with social and religious leaders in the city's Somali community.

"America is the best example of religious freedom as a destination," Mohamed said. "But we do not wish to be the target of trouble or conflict, especially here in Barron."

Minneapolis became the first major city in the U.S. to allow the Muslim call to prayer to be broadcast from some two dozen mosques.

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