Wednesday, March 19, 2008

UK: Sleepy Cornish village angered over call to prayer

Sort of. There are plenty of dhimmis who think it's just lovely.

Residents living in a sleepy Cornish village say they face a rude awakening every day because hundreds of Muslims are using a loudspeaker system to broadcast the call to prayer. A large group of Iranian Muslims have gathered to celebrate the Persian New Year at the Trevelgue Holiday Park in Porth.

Every day at sunrise, noon and sunset the group use a loudspeaker system to broadcast their prayers - known as Adhan. But some local residents have complained about the noise - claiming it is shattering the idyll of the quiet village near Newquay.

Neighbour Emma Brewer, 35, said "the novelty soon wore off" after the group arrived at the camp last weekend. She said: "It lasts about 20 to 30 minutes and it is rather loud. I'm a bit naffed off by it, to be honest.

"Approved by environmental department"

"It's like music for a while and then chanting and the call to prayer."

Another resident added: "We are going to have to put up with this all week. It's going off in the morning, at 5am."

But Mike Finnegan, park manager, said prayers were sounded at a lower volume in the morning to avoid upsetting the neighbours.

He said: "We actually did a sound check with environmental health to make sure it was OK.

"They are lovely family people and they have invited me and my staff to join in their celebrations."

A district councillor for Porth says more than 700 Muslims are staying at the park - but denied the call-to-prayers was a noise nuisance.

Cllr Harry Heywood, of Restormel District Council, said the group arrived on Saturday and are booked in for six days until Friday.

He said: "I haven't heard anything - only a very few people seem to be annoyed. It really isn't a problem. We get thousands of youngsters here every year when GCSEs finish and they make more noise.

"It's only a call to prayer and better than the 'thump thump thump' we get from teenage parties. I did have a couple of complaints from concerned residents who were worried about the potential noise.

"I contacted the appropriate people at the council who arranged for a sound test to
be conducted on the Friday, the day before the group were due to arrive.

"Environmental health officials and the park owner agreed a sound level and there has been no problem since then. I have received no more complaints since.

"I've got to say that this is one of the quieter events. To think that there are 700 people there is amazing. I walk my dog nearby and haven't heard a sound."

But one resident, from nearby St Columb Minor, says he was offended because he could hear the chanting as he made his way back from church.

He said: "Why was this broadcast at such a high level of volume so as to be heard miles away?

"Do the Christian church bells ring out in amplified volumes on Fridays in areas where they are at prayer? I feel that this was totally unnecessary especially on such an important day in our Christian calendar."

But other residents are more sympathetic and say the daily alarm calls is "lovely".

One said: "I loved it, I was hanging out of the window trying to hear.

It's such a unique sound that reminds me of travelling and I'd much rather hear it than church bells."

The event, organised by the Islamic Students Association, is a six day celebration of
Persian and Islamic culture.