Michigan Town, Home to Polish and Islamic Immigrants, Microcosm of World Response to Pope’s Passing

April 4, 2005

Source: The Baltimore Sun


On April 4, 2005 The Baltimore Sun reported, "As they gathered yesterday under a 10-foot-tall statue of the pope they considered to be their own, residents of this longtime Polish Catholic enclave [Hamtramck, Michigan] stood as testament to the complex challenges the successor to Pope John Paul II will face in a growing Islamic world. Settled by Polish immigrants, this tiny suburb of Detroit has been flooded in recent years with new immigrants and confronted with difficult questions of religious accommodation. The thorniest came a year ago, when the City Council approved a request to allow local mosques to broadcast publicly the Muslim call to prayer...The decision was met with unease and fear among some longtime residents. Abdul Motlib, president of Al-Islah Islamic Center, said it was the support of senior officials in the Catholic Church - under the guidance of Pope John Paul - that helped push the historic change in a town where the sound of Catholic Church bells had marked prayer for generations. 'He was committed to dialogue, among Muslims and Christians, and realized that ignorance was a big problem and education is the solution,' Motlib said yesterday. 'Hopefully, Muslims and Christians will continue this dialogue, and that way his soul will be satisfied.'