The City of Cape Town’s Social Services Directorate of Environmental Health issued a letter to the Imam of Masjidus Saligeen in Bayview, Strandfontein, to discontinue the athaan (call to prayer).
This follows a complaint by a resident in the area, who has submitted several complaints to the City of Cape Town over a few years.
According to the Imam of the Mosque, Maulana Yusuf Mohammed, the letter cites Section 25 of the Environmental Conservation Act (Act No.73 of 1989) and regards the sound as an “alleged noise disturbance”.
The Muslim Judicial Council SA (MJC) has expressed dismay about the complaint. The MJCs head of media, Mishka Daries, explained that it is surprised that City issued the notice considering that is not an entire community but rather one individual.
Maulana Mohammed told the MJC that when the complainant first approached the mosque several years ago, the volume of the loudspeaker was immediately decreased.
“At the end of the day we need to live in a community that accepts all religions. We don’t want any fighting or any animosity and if it is too loud, we will lower the volume. But sounding the athaan is a religious right. We want to resolve the issue amicably.”
Daries added that the City had not checked the decibels before issuing the letter.
The letter also instructed the Imam to submit a Noise management plan written by an accredited acoustic engineer within 21 days.
The community has shown support for the masjid and plan to launch a petition to oppose the silencing of the athaan.
Chairperson of neighboring Strandfontein Community Policing Forum, Sandy Schuter, showed support for the masjid:
“It really pained me to see that our Muslim leaders in our community leaders have to go through such an extent just to pray. We took the decision to fill in the gap of our Muslim brothers and sisters and to not allow them to be silenced by the City,” said Schuter.
Schuter added that it went beyond a complaint about noise.
“It’s not an attack on the religion, its an attack on the prayer. And prayer is the backbone of our community. The reason our schools are in the position they are in is because they removed God from the schools, so why would you want to remove prayer from our community?” posed Schuter.
Schuter said the decibels were reduced to 3 decibels.
Bayview CPF has hopes of obtaining 5000 signatures for the petition. In a statement, the CPF revealed that the community has planned to meet at “the white tent at the entrance of Bayview by the robots” between 10h00 and 15h00 on Saturday, 8 December 2018.
In a statement, the MJC expressed that “the Muslim community is grateful for the Bayview Community Policing Forum (CPF) and a local church who are supporting the mosque’s right of broadcasting the athaan via loudspeakers.”
The MJC will meet with the City of Cape Town and the mosque committee next Tuesday to discuss the matter.
VOC Tauhierah Salie