Row over muezzins' calls in Sweden
Swedish authorities have given a mosque in the district of Araby in the city of Växjö permission to send out the call to prayer over a loudspeaker. The decision was preceded by heated debate, with many citizens speaking out against the calls to prayer. Do the muezzins' calls pose a threat to Sweden's secular society?
An undesirable strengthening of Islam
The people's concerns are understandable, Svenska Dagbladet comments:
“The resolution will most likely prompt other mosques to apply for similar permits. The police was tasked with dealing with the case on the basis of the public order regulations. So the debate was reduced to a discussion about sounds and noise levels. In a study carried out in March by the opinion research institute Sifo, 60 percent of the respondents stated that calls to prayer should be banned. 21 percent felt they should be allowed. ... Presumably the respondents were less worried by the noise caused by calls to prayer than by the prospect of Islam's position being strengthened in an otherwise highly secular society.”
A quintessentially Swedish decision
The uproar over the muezzins' calls to prayer is exaggerated, Aftonbladet finds:
“Calls to prayer in Småland do not pose a threat either to Swedish culture or Swedish values, whatever they may be. On the contrary, they make a noise just like ice-cream vans, church bells or boomboxes blasting out hip hop music. But nor does religious freedom give people the right to disturb their neighbours. Decisions on calls to prayer in the Araby district must be made on the basis of Swedish laws and regulations. Relevant in this case are the law on general public order and the local regulations in Växjö. The fact that we are talking about Muslims here is irrelevant. This is precisely what the police have now decided - in good bureaucratic tradition. Things couldn't be done in a more Swedish manner.”