During Ramadan, Waltham Forest and Newham Councils have given approval for 27 mosques to broadcast the Muslim daily call to prayer across the Boroughs by loudspeaker. While one can appreciate and indeed sympathise with the difficulties faced by Muslims in observing Ramadan at this time, it is wrong to allow public broadcast of the message, “there is no god except Allah,” including as it does a call upon listeners to submit.
According to the 2011 census, Christianity remains the largest religion in Newham, with 40% of residents –123,119 – identifying as Christian, as against the 30% or so (60,000) who identify as Muslim (https://faithinnewham.co.uk ). Newham is also home to a small but active Jewish community – with five synagogues – and twenty seven more ethnic communities, with a ‘plurality’ of faiths, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism etc. The majority of people who are forced to listen to this message are therefore non-Muslim.
We would remind the Council that Christianity is the established religion of our land, and that the whole of our society, culture and laws, since before Magna Carta, has been founded on Christian values and belief. Our democracy, which is the envy of the world, is similarly founded on Christian belief. But the Islamic call to prayer denies our faith and challenges that heritage. ‘There is no god but Allah’ is a proclamation that denies the divinity of Christ, seeking to subordinate Him to Mohammed.
The proclamation is deeply offensive not just to Christians, but to all faiths, because it is an assertion of supremacy and dominance. It says that whatever beliefs lie at the heart of other religions, the revelation to Muhammad is superior. Allowing public broadcast of the call to prayer can only deepen divide and increase tension between different groups.
We therefore call on the council to rescind this ill-conceived and unwise decision with immediate effect.