Norway’s Progress Party is set to vote on banning the Islamic call to prayer, claiming it disturbs residents. But the country’s Muslim leaders say they use a phone app, not loudspeakers, to summon worshippers to prayer.
The anti-immigration party, part of the ruling two-party coalition, will vote on the measure when it meets for its national conference this weekend. If the proposal passes, the ban would be adopted as official party policy.
Party officials told the Local that the ‘call’, which is issued over loudspeakers, is a headache for residents within ear-reach of a mosque.
“A great many people perceive this as annoying and inappropriate. In Norway we have freedom of religion, which should also include the right not to be exposed to public calls to prayer,” the proposal, submitted by a local chapter of the Progress Party in Buskerud county, west of Oslo, said.
The ban was proposed after Progress Party officials claimed that mosques had been granted permission to issue the call to prayer over loudspeaker in “several places” in Norway.
However, Oslo’s Vart Land newspaper said it was unable to identify a single mosque in Norway that is currently – or is planning to – issue the call.
Arshad M. Jamil, chairman of the Oslo Mosque’s Islamic Cultural Center, said earlier this month that the proposal was pointless.
“When it comes to call to prayer, we use the app in 2018. We do not use the call to prayer to summon people,” he told Norway Today.
The party’s former leader, Carl Hagen, called for a similar ban in 2000, but Norway’s Ministry of Justice intervened, claiming that the measure would be a violation of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
But this time around, it appears that the Progress Party won’t yield. The party’s immigration policy spokesman, Jon Helgheim, told Vart Land that he had no qualms about the proposed ban allegedly infringing on rights protected by the convention.
“I don’t give a toss what human rights provisions say in this case,” he said. “What I care about is that people get peace and quiet in their neighborhoods, and that means not being disturbed by the call to prayer.”
“If there are conflicting provisions in the Convention on Human Rights, I simply don’t care, because it’s completely stupid,” he added.