Wed. Nov 20th, 2019

Faithful ask City of Cape Town to amend noise laws to exclude ‘calls to worship’

Zeenatul Islam Masjid mosque Cape TownA single noise complaint has left the City of Cape Town and the Zeenatul Islam Masjid mosque at loggerheads over the call to prayer.

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The Zeenatul Islam Masjid in District Six has asked the City of Cape Town (COCT) to exclude calls to worship from its noise disturbance bylaws.

The City received a complaint about the noise generated by the Mosque’s call to prayer, or Athaan, last month but agreed to conclude their investigation after the month of Ramadan.

The mosque has asked the City to recognize the distinction between so-called calls to worship, such as the Athaan and the ringing of church bells, and general noise disturbances.

A scientific test determined that the athaan fell within the acceptable decibel limits set out in the City’s bylaws but an additional ‘reasonable person test’ has become a bone of contention between the mosque and COCT.

“This ‘reasonable person’ test, in our view, is completely subjective and changing the terms of reference of the complaint amounts to a shifting the goal posts by the City of Cape Town,” read a statement issued by the Zeenatul Islam Masjid trust as reported by News24.

“As far as the mosque is concerned, there is a distinct difference between “noise disturbance” and the athaan or any similar call to prayer as an act of worship.”

“We call on the City of Cape Town to heed the overwhelming public support for the Athaan and to dismiss the complaint.”

The reasonable person test was conducted by City of Cape Town officials, who dubbed the athaan, a noise nuisance, something the trust believe is an act that intended to shift the focus of ongoing discussions surrounding the matter.

In a statement issued to the media last month the Trust called on the city to recognize the cultural and historical significance of the call to prayer in District Six.

“The different calls to worship by mosques, churches and other places of worship is integral to the fabric of District Six and this diversity has spread to the rest of the world. Cape Town – the birthplace of Islam in South Africa 325 years ago – prides itself as an embracing city of many cultures and faiths. The Athaan needs to be understood in this context.”

The trust and worshipers await further feedback from City officials.

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