Posted on December 26, 2007

Anger Over Plan to Broadcast Muslim Call to Prayer on Loudspeaker in Oxford

Daily Mail (London), December 24, 2007

Muslim plans to broadcast a loudspeaker call to prayer from a city centre mosque have been attacked by local residents who say it would turn the area into a “Muslim ghetto”.

Dozens of people packed out a council meeting to express their concerns over the plans for a two-minute long call to prayer to be issued three times a day, saying that it could drown out the traditional sound of church bells.

But a spokesman for the Central Mosque said that Muslims also have the right to summon worshippers.

Dr Mark Huckster, who lives in Stanton Road and works at East Oxford hospice Helen House, told the Oxford Mail: “The proposal to issue a prayer call is very un-neighbourly, especially in a crowded urban space such as Oxford.

“I have lived in the Middle East and a prayer call has a very different feel to church bells and I personally found the noise extremely unpleasant, rather disturbing and very alien to the western mindset.”

He added: “If an evangelical Christian preacher proposed issuing sermons three times a day at full volume there would be an outcry.

“There could be a sense of ghettoisation of East Oxford. Cowley Road would have a Muslim flavour and could become a Muslim ghetto which is contrary to what we want in a multicultural society.”

Dr Huckster was among six residents speaking in opposition to the plans, revealed in the Oxford Mail in November.

Allan Chapman, who lives in East Oxford, said: “We are concerned with civil liberties and civil peace and the right to be able to live in our own space.

“I do not want preaching at. It is not the tradition of this country or the tradition I subscribe to.

“I find this totally, utterly unacceptable and I plan to do whatever I can to stop it.”

David Hutcheson, of East Avenue, said: “I’m very happy for people to practice their own religion but very unhappy about the thought of having a loudspeaker broadcasting any messages into my private space.”

After the meeting, Sardar Rana, a spokesman for the Central Mosque, said he would be happy to clarify any issues and invited anyone to come to the mosque so he could satisfy their concerns.

He said: “The call is going on in so many places in the UK, and we must get the same right as everybody else.

“When they ring the bells in church, we respect it but that is also a call to prayer.

“We don’t want to do anything that will disturb the people or upset the people.”