Saturday, May 16, 2020

Broadcasting Islamic call to prayer harmless enough, but a bad precedent

I'm at a bit of a loss to understand why Toronto (and now also Mississauga, Hamilton, London, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and several other Canadian cities with a large Muslim population) are allowing the Islamic call to prayer (Azan) to be broadcast throughout Ramadan, in direct contravention of city noise bylaws.
Supposedly, it is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although I don't really see the connection. From what I can gather, it is because peope are in need of comfort at this time, and religious Muslims apparently find this amplified noise comforting.
I don't deny that we are in need of comfort, non-Muslims just as much as Muslins, but to give some people comfort in this way, at the expense of the discomfort of many others, seems seems strangely incongruous. Especially given that there are no sunset gatherings this Ramadan anyway, due to the pandemic, it is all being done online. So, the faithful really don't need these blasts of noise to remind them to eat, they could just check their computers. (Hell, I'm sure they could arrange to hear the Azan on their computers if they really wanted to hear it). Or they could just look out of the window to see that it's sunset...
Anyway, what do I know? I don't have a religious bone in my body. I guess it's harmless enough, providing it's temporary. Because opening the door to more noise pollution is not a good development - we need to be reducing noise if anything.

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