Prayer calls could spread throughout Sweden
Prayer calls from minarets all over Sweden can become a reality before long. The mosque in the Stockholm suburb of Botkyrka leads the way. After an initial green light by lower bureaucrats, the City Council of Botkyrka township will make a final decision in the matter next month.
The outcome of that decision could set a precedent for other townships in Sweden. Imam Abdul Rashid Mohammed of the Gothenburg mosque has already made clear that his parish intends to follow suit if Botkyrka gets the go ahead.
– Absolutely, the prayer is incomplete without the prayer calls. It’s a religious tradition going back to the birth of Islam and should be every mosque’s right. We’re going to address this matter as soon as possible, he says to news daily Göteborgs-Posten.
When Botkyrka’s Planning Board processed the request recently, Stefan Dayne of the Christian Democratic Party was the only one who opposed it. Dayne says his opposition was mainly due to the fact that he doesn’t regard this as a matter local politicians can or should decide.
– We can’t rule on this matter and it is a waste of taxpayers’ money to invest any more time in discussing it. If anything, it’s a police or state matter, the township politicians have no competence to make a decision like this, says Stefan Dayne.
So, the legal position is unclear. The township’s local regulations state that "information, commercial messages, propaganda or other messages directed at persons in public places, cannot be disseminated through loudspeakers or other such devices without police authorization”. However, legal experts are of the opinion that local regulations cannot override freedom of speech, and furthermore, since a mosque doesn’t require authorization there shouldn’t be anything stopping public prayer calls. Only if and when the sound becomes a nuisance, can the police intervene and start an inquiry. (continue reading...)