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Rwanda Muslim clerics to appeal loudspeaker ban

Rwanda’s Muslim leaders have said they will appeal the government’s decision to ban the use of loudspeakers for the call to prayer —Adhan —, which they say infringes on their rights of worship.

Sheikh Suleiman Mbarushimana, an adviser to Mufti of Rwanda told The EastAfrican the ban violates Islamic liturgical practices.

“Stopping Adhan is inappropriate, instead we would seek to do it in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone like agreeing on sound levels not to exceed,” he said.

Sheikh Said Mukhtaar Mbabajende said Kigali authorities should have consulted the Muslim community before reaching its decision.

“The directive came as a surprise. We wish that there should have been consultation… we know noise pollution is a result of so many things and I don’t think that mosques are the major contributors,” he said.

“The government needs to carefully approach this as it could affect its image in terms of granting freedom of worship. Of course we are not saying we should be allowed to infringe on others’ rights in the name of religious freedom,” he added.

On Wednesday, Kigali issued a notice to mosques in Nyarugenge sector in the capital, directing them to stop using loudspeakers and find alternative ways for the call to prayers.

The ban affected the area which is home to some of Kigali’s largest mosques with the government saying the directive is aimed at curbing noise pollution.

The order followed just weeks after the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), which regulates faith-based organisations, closed more than 700 churches and one mosque over building safety and hygiene and noise pollution.

Some mosques have resorted to regulating the volume and duration the Adhan is made.

“What we have done is to pay attention to the sound levels during call for prayer,” Sheikh Mbarushimana said.

He added that the use of the loudspeakers is for a shorter time of about three minutes.

He said the clerics will write to the Kigali City Council and RGB over their concerns before the directive is prescribed nationwide.

Attempts to get a comment from the authorities were unsuccessful by the time of going to press.

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