Tuesday 11 May 2021

Amsterdam mosque wants to broadcast the call to prayer to normalise Islam

Photo: Arch via Wikimedia Commons

A mosque in the Amsterdam district of Nieuw West wants to become the first in the Dutch capital to call worshippers to Friday prayers using loudspeakers.

The Blauwe mosque and cultural centre hope that the call to prayer will help ‘normalise Islam in this beautiful world city of Amsterdam,’ the mosque’s leaders say on Facebook.

They have organised a meeting with locals on October 20 to discuss the idea.

The news immediately led to a storm of social media comment, with the anti-Islam PVV tabling parliamentary questions.  Imam Yassin Elforkani said he had expected the criticism. ‘We are not trying to provoke, we are trying to normalise Islamic traditions,’ he told the Parool.

‘People associate “Allahu akbar” with violence and trouble thanks to international terrorism, but many visitors to our mosque experience it as a meditation aid,’ he said. ‘The azan can contribute to Islam finally being seen as normal in the Netherlands.’

The Parool said that the Muslim call to prayer has the same status in law as church bells, and that city councils have the authority to determine limits.

In Leerdam, for example, the local mosque is allowed to make the call for prayer for four minutes on Friday afternoon. A daily call to prayer, such as by the Ulu mosque in Utrecht, is extremely rare in the Netherlands, the paper said.

The wish for a call to prayer in Amsterdam comes just weeks after derision greeted a call by a newcomer for the Westerkerk church bells to be quietened at night.

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