Adhan Ban Sparks Furor in Mauritius

Muslims and non-Muslims in Mauritius were united, in rejecting a court ruling banning the use of loudspeakers in raising the Adhan (Muslim call to prayer).

Adhan Ban Sparks Furor in Mauritius

Muslims and non-Muslims in Mauritius wereunited, in rejecting a court ruling banning the use of loudspeakers in raisingthe Adhan (Muslim call to prayer), warning that it could jeopardise social harmonyin the southern African country.

"Muslims have never ever protested against theconstruction of other places of worship," Fouad Uteene, head of the MuslimCitizen Council, told

"They have never asked Chinese people to stoplighting firecrackers to mark their religious festivals nor churches to stopringing the bell. Why do they want to stop us from raising the Adhan fromloudspeakers," he wondered.

The Supreme Court has ordered late last month thelocal authority in Quatre-Bornes, a town 20 km south of the capital Port-Louis,to remove loudspeakers of the main Hidayat-Ul-Ilsam mosque after one residentfiled a lawsuit, arguing that he was annoyed by the loud voice of the Muezzin(the man who calls for prayers).

Muslims raise the Adhan five times a day.

The verdict was based on a law enacted decades ago,prohibiting the use of loudspeakers, amplifiers and car horns noisily.Offendersare fined 500 rupees.

The law, however, is not enforced strictly asauthorities condone, for instance, Chinese fire cracks marking religiousfestivals.

"It is shocking to hear some people say thatthey are allergic to this call for prayers," said Nissar Ramtoola, theimam of Jummah Masjid in Port-Louis, adding that it is offensive to call Adhannoise.

Sheela Mohunparsad, the secretary of a Hindu templein Goodlands, agreed.

"In our region, everybody practise his religioncalmly and we do not consider Adhan as a nuisance," he told IOL.

"Instead, it helps us to get up early in themorning, not only for going to work but also when we are fasting."

Muslims make up 16.6% of population in Mauritius.Hindus are a majority with 48% followed by Roman Catholics at 23.6%, accordingto the CIA's World Fact Book.

Social Harmony

Muslims and non-Muslims were especially worried thatthe ruling could cast a cloud over the country's social harmony.

"This could harm the social fabric in theisland," Muslim lawyer and politician Shakeel Mohamed warned.

He said Mauritius is neither an Islamic nora Hindu nor a Christian country.

"This makes the beauty of this island,"Mohamed added.

The lawyer warned that the verdict could furtherhave a domino effect on other places of worship like temples and churches,which also use loudspeakers in some rituals.

"The law as it stands, he added, prohibits theuse of loudspeakers outside a place of worship," he said.

Mohamed said the verdict also threatens the majorreligious festivities in the country as the faithful are used, for instance, tousing fireworks for celebration.

"The social fabric of the island may becomefragile if Mauritiuswould have to go without Eid, Bakr-Eid, Maha Shivaratree, Ougadi and otherreligious festivals," he said, mentioning the names of major Muslim andHindu festivals.

Dheeraj Seetulsingh, chairperson of the National Commissionfor Human Rights, it is an inalienable right for Muslims to raise the Adhan andfor Christians to ring church bells.

"We have accepted the sound of bells, the voiceof the Muezzin and others in a spirit of tolerance," he said, stressingthat freedom of religion was guaranteed by the Constitution.

Following the court ruling, hundreds of Muslims tookto the streets, urging authorities to repeal the controversial verdict.

Muslim activist Areff Bahemia also warned of massiveprotests in the coming days if the court ruling was not repealed.


Lord-Mayor of Port-Louis Reza Issack said themunicipality of the town at issue should amend regulations to help cementsocial harmony in the country, adding that he will take the initiative.

"We'll amend the regulations as soon aspossible because a judgment cannot disturb the racial harmony that exists sinceso many years in Mauritius,"he said.

Ian Ernest, Archbishop of the AnglicanChurch, called for a compromise.

"On one side, there is the fundamental right ofpeople to live in peace and tranquillity and on the other there is thefundamental right to religious practice," he said.

"We should find a compromise between personalcomfort and religious tradition."

The Council of Religions also stepped in.

"This is not a problem between two communitieson the island," the council said in a press release. "We suggest thesetting up of an independent platform assembling experts in human rights,religions and in laws to work together on this issue."

However, Hindu Priest Pandit Ved Gopee remindsMuslims and non-Muslims of the recent visit made by South's Africarenowned bishop Desmond Tutu.

"He came to help us consolidate the brotherhoodthat exists among the different communities of the island. Now we are startingsomething bad," he said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16