Anger over loudspeaker Muslim calls to prayer in Oxford

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London, Dec 26 (UNI) Proposals from Muslims for loudspeaker calls to prayer in central Oxford have been attacked by local residents saying it would turn the area into a ''Muslim ghetto.'' Dozens of people packed out a council meeting yesterday to express their concerns over the plans for a two-minute long call to prayer to be issued three times a day, saying that it could drown out the traditional sound of church bells.

But a spokesman for the Central Mosque said Muslim's also have the right to summon worshippers.

''The proposal to issue a prayer call is very un-neighbourly, especially in a crowded urban space such as Oxford,'' Daily Mail qouted Mark Huckster, a resident at Stanton Road as saying.

''I have lived in the West Asia and a prayer call has a very different feel to church bells and I personally found the noise extremely unpleasant, rather disturbing and very alien to the western mindset,'' he stated.

''If an evangelical Christian preacher proposed issuing sermons three times a day at full volume there would be an outcry,'' he said, adding ''there could be a sense of ghettoisation of east Oxford. Cowley Road would have a Muslim flavour and could become a Muslim ghetto which is contrary to what we want in a multicultural society.'' Dr Huckster was among six residents speaking in opposition to the plans.

''We are concerned with civil liberties and civil peace and the right to be able to live in our own space. It is not the tradition of this country or the tradition I subscribe to,'' said Allan Chapman, an East Oxford resident.

''I find this totally, utterly unacceptable and I plan to do whatever I can to stop it,'' he added.

''I'm very happy for people to practice their own religion but very unhappy about the thought of having a loudspeaker broadcasting any messages into my private space,'' said David Hutcheson, an East Avenue resident.

After the meeting, Sardar Rana, a spokesman for the Central Mosque, said he would be happy to clarify any issues and invited anyone to come to the mosque so he could satisfy their concerns.

He said, ''The call is going on in so many places in the UK, and we must get the same right as everybody else.'' ''When they ring the bells in church, we respect it but that is also a call to prayer. We don't want to do anything that will disturb or upset the people,'' he added.


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