Sunday Tribune

Muslims furious as prayer call hushed

Bid to change by-laws as loudspeake­r prohibited

- MASOOD BOOMGAARD

MUSLIMS in Crossmoor, Chatsworth, are furious at a municipal order outlawing the use of a loudspeake­r for the azaan, or prayer call, from the mosque.

The order was issued by the developmen­t planning: environmen­tal and management land use management branch after someone living near the mosque complained that the azaan was a disturbanc­e.

The branch’s M Allopi could not be reached for comment.

Although the Crossmoor Mosque had complied with the order, the Chatsworth Muslim and Districts Forum, an organisati­on that represents Muslims in the area, has vowed to challenge the municipali­ty and protect what is perceived as a constituti­onal right.

“The azaan has been silen- ced; we are now only allowed to project it with a natural voice.

“But this is against our tradition and takes away our freedom of religion,” said Saleem Adam, executive member of the forum.

“The constituti­on gives us freedom of religion, but it seems our city’s bylaws go against it. How can a complaint from one person override the view of 40 families who live near the mosque and welcome the prayer?”

Adam said the azaan was important to Muslims and he believed the call was universal.

“The azaan is for a short period and is a call for peace and success,” Adam said.

“The azaan is only exercised during the day and causes no disturbanc­e. The mosque is on the main road, where taxis and other vehicles create noise. The trains near the mosque are louder.”

Adam said the municipali­ty was suppressin­g religious freedom and the council had also ordered the mosque to limit the number of children in madressa classes.

In May, the municipali­ty ordered the mosque to close a borehole on the premises which Adam said was used to provide free water to the residents of the informal settlement in Crossmoor.

“There are other issues – the azaan is just one of them,” said Adam.

ANC city council executive committee member Visvan Reddy has come out in support of the Muslims.

“The Bill of Rights, Freedom Charter and constituti­on all protect the individual and collective rights of our people, particular­ly where religion is concerned. Mosques in general are victims of outdated municipal by-laws and intoleranc­e,” said Reddy.

He said the azaan was fundamenta­l to Islamic faith and he had encouraged the faithful at the Crossmoor mosque to continue the call.

“I have written to the town planning department requesting that it review the by-laws and I have called on the community to rally around the mosque irrespecti­ve of their religious affiliatio­n,” said Reddy.

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