Residents of the French Hill neighborhood in Jerusalem plan to combat Arab prayer-calls by blasting music from loudspeakers, in defiance of Arab religious conventions. According to Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, Israelis plan to broadcast music from loudspeakers positioned toward a mosque in the Arab village Al Issawiya, located in Jerusalem on Mount Scopus near Hadassah Hospital.There go those Jews again, disrespecting the rights of Muslims to blast their prayer calls as loud as they want at any hour of the day.
A widespread practice among Muslims, the adhan is a call for Muslims to attend voluntary prayers that are broadcast from a Mosque’s large towers called minarets, like the one standing over the western wall in Jerusalem. In previous centuries, the muezzin, leader of the adhan, would stand atop the minaret and project his voice, but technological advances have yielded microphones and loudspeakers, which are now utilized to project the adhan remotely at volumes of up to 100 decibels. Jerusalem residents are often bothered by the noise because adhans occur before each of the five daily Muslims prayers, the first of which begins before sunrise, and feature Arabic versions of the basic Muslim creed, to persuade Muslims to attend mandatory prayer service.
In an effort to convey their displeasure, residents of Jerusalem’s Givah Tsarfatit, or French Hill neighborhood, have approached an amplification company with intentions of buying four giant loudspeakers, from which rock and roll music will be played to clash with the Muslim prayer songs. The music, specifically chosen from the hard rock musical genre rather than mellower styles like classical or Mediterranean music, will be played when the Muslim broadcasts begin.
The campaign to limit the Muslim broadcast has until now taken place at Jerusalem’s city hall, where attempted negotiations between the village of Al-Issawiya and the French Hill have taken place. The agreements yielded a promise by Al Issawiya to lower the noise level of their adhans, but French Hill inhabitants claim that no such change has been instituted, leading to the launch of their more drastic rock and roll campaign.
If the campaign is successful, other neighborhoods have pledged to follow suit.
But the loudspeakers seem to bother some Muslims, too:
In Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs banned small mosques from using loudspeakers for the nightly tarawih prayer in Ramadan. The sounds of prayers coming from different mosques at the same time can be confusing, the ministry said explaining the rationale behind their decision.And in Indonesia:
“Raising the sound of loudspeakers above the accepted level is not permissible,” said Sheikh Tawfiq al-Sayegh, imam of a mosque in the coastal city of Jeddah, to Okaz daily. “There are ill and elderly people in the neighboring houses who need rest and quietness.”
However, the ministry is struggling to enforce their decision. Writing for the same paper, columnist Humoud Abu Talib said very few mosques have actually respected the ministry’s instructions to control the noise levels.
In a move few could have predicted, Indonesia’s hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) threw their support on Wednesday behind calls to curb the excessive use of loud speakers by mosques during Ramadan.The difference, of course, is when Muslims complain about loud calls to prayer, it is an internal matter; when Jews complain, it is Islamophobia.
“It is indeed better that mosques adjust their loud speakers when reciting the Koran, so as not to disturb other people, especially if the reciters can’t recite fluently or don’t understand what they are reading, lest there be negative comments from others,” the head of the Jakarta office of the FPI, Habib Salim bin Umar Alatas, told beritasatu.com on Wednesday.
Central Kalimantan’s deputy governor Achmad Diran asked local mosques on Wednesday to refrain from blasting their speakers sporadically throughout the day.
“Don’t use loud speakers when reciting the Koran. Take pity on people of different faiths who want to rest,” Achmad said during an event in Palangkaraya on Wednesday.
The Jakarta branch of the FPI — usually known for inciting angry protests against “immoral” culture — surprisingly agreed.
“If they recite well and understand what they read, then [using loud speakers] should be okay; it might even inspire remorse to those who hear it. But please don’t be too loud, and do it only during the day not at night,” Salim said.