Why do they want to amplify their call to prayer?
To normalise Islam and to make it a more visible part of Amsterdam “Amsterdam, the most tolerant city,” is the perfect place to do this for the first time, according to the main Imam at the mosque, Yassin Elforkani.
Pooyan Tamimi Arab, who carried out PhD research on use of speakers in Islamic prayer call, found that some mosques around the Netherlands began amplifying their call to prayer years ago, NOS reports.
Why on Friday?
“Most mosques only use the speakers on Friday afternoons” Saïd Bouharrou, chairman of the Council of Moroccan mosques in the Netherlands (RMMN), tells NOS “Friday afternoon prayer is the most important of the week.”
All in all, there are around 500 mosques in the Netherlands, spread throughout the country.
The legal point of view
The constitution states that everyone has “the right to profess freely his religion or belief, either individually or in community with others.”
The Public Events Act, introduced in the 1980s, states that “bells on the occasion of religious and philosophical ceremonies and funeral ceremonies, as well as calls to confess religion or belief, are permitted”.
Amplifying a call to prayer is therefore legally protected under these rights and laws so the municipality in Amsterdam cannot prohibit it but can make rules about how loud the amplification can be and the duration of it.
Not everyone agrees
Bouharrou says when the call to prayer is sounded through speakers “it evokes a certain feeling, has spiritual value. All people can hear it. That also applies to church bells.”, NOS reports.
Amsterdam mayor, Halsema, acknowledges that the the Islamic prayer call evokes “for many people the association with violence.” “I can’t deny that and I don’t want that at all,” she said in a debate with the city council last week.
Would you say Amsterdam is a tolerant city? Let us know in the comments below.