Monday, March 17, 2008

Muslim call to prayer sounds strained note

[Virtue Online] 17 Mar 2007--Famous for its university and quintessentially English "dreaming spires," the city of Oxford has been plunged into controversy over the sound of Muslim call to prayer from a local mosque.

Those church spires have been joined by a minaret, with a loudspeaker on top which has triggered protests from locals concerned about the influx of a foreign culture.

"I don't have any problem with Islam but don't force it on people," said Oxford University historian Allan Chapman, whose typically English house has a view of both the minaret and the nearby Church of Saint Mary and Saint John.

The mosque itself -- which can hold up to 700 of the town's 6,000 Muslims -- is little more than a 15-minute walk from Oxford's colleges, many of which were founded by Christian religious scholars as long ago as the 12th century.

But while the city's history is marked by Christianity's influence, some believe the mosque's imposing minaret defiles the city's famous skyline, which has remained largely unchanged for centuries.

Those feelings have been brought to a head since last November when mosque authorities expressed a desire to broadcast via loudspeaker the Muslim prayer call, the Adhan, sparking controversy that has not yet died down.

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