CHARLOTTE, NC, February 5, 2019 – It doesn’t take much to create a controversy these days. Send a Tweet with the name “Trump” in it and, Bingo, an instant negative response. Just about anything a person can think of will have detractors somewhere ready to pounce the moment it goes public. Legitimate or not, it should come as no surprise that you can always count on controversy when it comes to Islam. Hugh Fitzgerald of Jihad Watch poses an interesting argument in that regard. (Hugh Fitzgerald: What’s the Matter with Sweden?)
The background of the story revolves around the Islamic call to prayer in Karlskrona.
Fitzgerald says a Karlskrona, Sweden mosque was given permission to have the Muslim call to prayer chanted from a minaret in the city. Christopher Larsson, leader of the Swedish Democrats, vehemently protests the approval.
In Islamic countries where the religion dominates, there is no dispute about the chant. However, in Switzerland, the call does interfere with the rights of non-Muslims
Most people know by now that the Muslim call to prayer goes out five times each day; sunrise, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, dinner and sunset. Clearly a Muslim tradition, it has been that way for centuries. Hugh Fitzgerald, defending Larsson’s objection, offers that the minaret broadcasting the call to prayer is significantly more than an innocuous call to prayer.
Consider the times when you are at a traffic light and the person in the car next to you is playing music loudly. Music so loud that the bass tones rattle your own vehicle. It is irritating, even if short-lived. This is the point Fitzgerald and Larsson are making.
As opponents to the five times a day call, their complaints include the irritating chant echoing through the atmosphere. Fitzgerald and Larson say the chants are an infringement upon the privacy of non-Muslim whose lives, and sleep, will be disrupted by the noise.
The controversy is easy to see and, on the surface at least, it appears that both sides have legitimate defenses for their argument.
However, It is at this point where the debate takes on a life of its own.
Even though the prayer call has been a part of Islamic heritage for centuries, Hugh Fitzgerald points out that it is also “a bellicose message of Islamic supremacism.” Given that Islam is fundamentally based upon a position of conflict, Fitzgerald does have a point when he argues against the historical legacy of the call.
In contemporary societies, Fitzgerald states there is no longer a need to chant the call to prayer from the tops of minarets because social media, texts, e-mails, and broadcasting can accomplish the same goal.
Still, in Muslim dominated cities throughout the world, a person walking down the street during prayer time can actually stroll between mosques with the call overlapping each other every block or two. This despite that \Islamic businesses and newspapers will print notices at the start of each week telling believers precisely what times the call will go out each day. The times can also be easily found on the internet.
The Muslim call to prayer celebrates Allahu Akbar
Any time there is a terrorist attack committed by true Islamic believers, the first thing they shout is “Allahu Akbar.”
We’ve all heard it. We all know exactly the intention with which the phrase is used. As Larsson points out the first two words of the chant are “Allahu Akbar.”
For those who have been sleeping like Rip van Winkle since 9/11/01, the cry does NOT mean that “God (Allah) is great” as many Muslims would have us believe. Those words are red flags for non-Muslims. Not unlike the Confederate flag in the South or the Nazi swastika in Europe.
Because Allahu Akbar translates to “Allah is GREATER than your God” which is a huge difference.
As the writer Fitzgerald reports Swedish authorities have charged Larsson with “hatred against an ethnic group.” Other than the inconvenience of the five calls each day, it is here that Larsson justifies his argument.
Does that mean that raising awareness of a cultural ritual is tantamount to “hatred”?
Is proving the world round, not flat or the existence of gravity blasphemous concepts? Even though they are true? But blasphemous because they go against the religious beliefs of another?
On the other hand, should the traditions of a Christmas tree be chastised by non-Christians because they are interpreted as offensive by other faiths? In pondering that question, remember the tradition of a Christmas tree, in your own home, can hardly offend a non-Christian.
Given Sweden’s more than progressive leanings in all things political, Fitzgerald accurately notes that Swedish authorities are, for all intents, protecting Muslims. They are doing so by attempting to ignore any unpleasant realities concerning Islam.
In that sense, the Swedish government has painted Larsson with the broad brush of being a hate-monger. In much the same manner as the terms Islamophobe or racist alter the meaning of an argument, the Swedes have lumped Larsson with religious haters. For asking that common sense reign in Karlskrona.
Muslims do have a legitimate cultural position if they frame it in the proper context. But they can also use technology to broadcast the call to prayer to their followers. Particularly those very early and evening calls.
As for Christopher Larsson, maybe he should just turn up the bass to full volume on his radio any time he drives up to a member of the Swedish government at a traffic light.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor is an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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