The Dutch city of Amsterdam has come up with a clever, tech-savvy reply to a prominent mosque that wanted to become the first in the city to blast out its call to prayer over loudspeakers.
Such a disturbance is unnecessary in the era of mobile apps, said the mayor of the Dutch capital, Femke Halsema. Ms. Halsema said that given advances in technology and the almost universal adoption of smartphones, it was not necessary to use loudspeakers to remind the faithful when to pray.
And the nonfaithful – that is non-Muslims – will now not have to listen to it either.
The amplification of the call to prayer, Ms. Halsema said, was fundamentally “not of this time” – a phrase decried in some Dutch media on Wednesday as showing a lack of sensitivity to cherished Muslim tradition.
The mosque’s imam has an interesting justification for the loudspeaker plan, not even pretending that it is used actually to remind Muslims to pray. He admitted it is an attempt to insinuate Islam even more into European life.
Imam Yassin Elforkani said that rather than an attempt to provoke – as Geert Wilders’ far-right Freedom Party has claimed – it’s an effort “to normalise Islam in this beautiful world city”.
While the imam acknowledged that for some members of the public the phrase “Allahu akbar” was synonymous with violence as a result of international terrorism, he said that for those who visited his mosque it was part of the prayer ritual and an aid to meditation. He said that allowing the call to be broadcast would be a reassurance to Muslims following a burka ban in August which had sparked a debate about their rights as Dutch citizens