A proposal to broadcast the adhan from Harrow Central Mosque in north London has been met with a deluge of complaints by local residents.
The mosque lodged a planning application with Harrow Council earlier this month so that it could broadcast the call to prayer at 6pm every Friday for a period of three months.
The proposal was part of the “Call to Prayer” campaign, orchestrated by British Heart Foundation fundraiser Rehana Choudry, which wants people of all faiths to pause and reflect on life during the coronavirus pandemic.
But the proposal has attracted hundreds of comments on the council’s website, the vast majority of them complaining about the plan on the grounds of noise, traffic and disruption. Some comments were even clearly Islamophobic in nature.
One objector said: “This is noise pollution and forcing non-Muslims to listen to something they can’t understand. This should not be approved. All religions are allowed to practice but without disruption to others.”
Another said: “It is out of character for the community. Already the area is a no-go area on Fridays due to traffic congestion in the area.”
Yet another said: “We are senior Hindu ladies. It is against our religion to hear the Muslim call to prayer. We are elderly and disturbed by this. We are very worried. This Harrow is a multicultural place. Will you also let the temples broadcast their messages? We are offended and object.”
On the other hand, a supporter of the proposal commented: “I support this proposal because this planning condition has not been imposed on most religious institutes and similar buildings across the UK and the fact that it has been imposed on this organisation is shocking…
“Clubs, pubs and other entertain industries are allowed to blast constant music for hours all over Harrow and London and this is just for a call to prayer which lasts less than 5 minutes and is only voice.
“During this time of lock-down it would be very beneficial and uplifting to the mental health of people many of whom have been isolated for nearly 2 months. Furthermore Britain is a country with a proud history of upholding the values of faith, and of recognising the principle of freedom of religious observance for ALL citizens.
“Muslims are the largest “statistical” minority religion in the UK with over 3 million adherents and almost 40,000 in Harrow. Their religious practises, and every religions religious practises and methods of calling, whether any individual personally agrees with it or not, should be allowed and embraced by the council under the notion of freedom of religion.”
Meanwhile, a petition – so far signed by over 18,000 people on change.org – has been set up by residents opposed to the call to prayer broadcast.
Once again most of the comments complained about the disruption the adhan would cause but many others targeted Muslims themselves.
One signatory said: “We don’t need the sickening sound of Imams yelling through tinny loudspeakers to call to prayers. The Muslims know the time of the service.”
Another said: “This is a Christian country. A country which gives respect and freedom, to people of other faiths. Strange, the places which these people run from, once here they want to turn it into back home. I love this country. A certain community should respect it and not impose their beliefs on others. You are pushing people to their limits. By the way I’m from a Hindu/Sikh background.”
Meanwhile, Harrow Mosque has released a statement saying that the adhan application is temporary in nature and relates to the pandemic alone and that they are not seeking to secure a permanent broadcast.
The mosque added that the application is only intended to “promote peace and harmony and not unrest of any sort, the prayer being sought is with the wider multi-faith and intended for the entire community of Harrow who have suffered during the pandemic.”
A Harrow Council spokesperson confirmed it will hold a consultation on the application before assessing it against current local and national planning policies.