How wrong of Oxford to still the call to prayer

Central Mosque OxfordPhilip Hensher on the campaign against Oxford Central Mosque’s proposal to broadcast an amplified call to prayer:

“Of course, Oxford has quite a lot of calls to prayer already in the form of church bells, but this suggestion has raised the ire of local residents. Some claimed it was a matter of ‘community cohesion’ – rather a dubious notion if it leads to recommendations that minorities keep quiet, all in all.

“An academic told the paper ‘What an utter cheek to inflict this on a non-Muslim area of Oxford. Christian churches ring bells, but they are just a signal. The Muslim call is a theological statement.’ (In Arabic, I feel I should point out, so it’s not all that likely that the non-Muslim area of Oxford will be roused to technical disagreement with the muezzin.)

“Though I can’t claim any enthusiasm for the forces of organised religion, and don’t care for anything which increases the general noisiness of modern life, one does wonder why people are objecting so virulently. I very much doubt that the Oxford central mosque is a hotbed of anti-western hatred, and they themselves sound genuinely puzzled why such objection to one of their central traditions is so violent. Personally, not caring about or indeed understanding what the muezzin is saying, I find the sound one of the most romantic and wonderful in the world.”

Independent, 15 January 2008

Meanwhile, in the Oxford Mail, a correspondent takes a different view.

This letter also takes up the issue of halal meat being served to children at an Oxford school. See also the report at This is Oxfordshire, which has drawn the following comment:

“Another case of the PC brigade making decisions for the minority that affect the majority. Last week on TV we experienced unending programmes about the treatment of animals and their slaughter etc, the production of Halal meat is a barbaric process where the animal is not stunned as the ‘M’ people believe the animal should be aware of its death. The real issue here is pandering to a minority by subterfuge. I for one would not want my child fed meat produced through such a barbaric practice, its islamification by the back door.”

Needless to say, the fascists of the British National Party have jumped on this issue:

“If the sound of the Imam summonsing the faithful to prayer across east Oxford later this year, through the use of an amplification system, isn’t bad enough – we today learn that young British school kids are being fed hahal [sic] meat in an Oxford primary school! …

“Halal slaughter is the most prolific form of animal abuse practised in Britain today and to expect British youngsters to be party to such barbarity is an outrage that clearly brings into focus a number of issues pertaining to the ongoing employment status of those involved. In addition, the question also arises as to why British kids should be expected to conform to the dietary requirements of an alien religion of which they are not part?”

BNP regional news, 15 January 2008