A mosque in Sweden that has requested the use of loudspeakers to call Muslims to prayer has ignited a firestorm, with right-leaning groups saying this should be banned while a Jewish leader has come out in defense of religious freedom.
Mosques in Europe generally avoid broadcasting the call to prayer for fear of stoking Islamophobic sentiments but one in the town of Vaxjo in southern Sweden has requested the right to do so on Fridays, The New Arab reports.
“It’s not like there are thousands of mosques asking for calls to prayer in Sweden,” said Aron Verstandig of the Stockholm Jewish Community group. “It’s only one that asked recently and this thing came up, so the whole thing is being exaggerated.”
Local media reported that the leader of the country’s Christian Democratic Party had ordered politicians in the region to vote against the proposal.
However, Verstandig likened this response to the hysteria that greeted Jewish immigrants in Sweden over 200 years ago when they brought their religious practices with them.
He expressed concern it could “damage integration in the country” at a time of rising Islamophobia in the Western world, symbolized by US President Donald Trump’s recent crackdown on immigrants and fueled in part by the recent refugee crisis in Europe.
Pundits have weighed in suggesting the Christian Democratic Party’s opposition may be politically motivated as this is an election year in Sweden.
Other countries have imposed curbs on Islam, with Switzerland banning mosques from building minarets in the wake of a 2009 referendum, according to The New Arab.