Skopje, February 19, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Naser Pajaziti
A strong debate has been recently sparked in Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia concerning the high volume of the noise emitted by mosques when prayers are called to pray five times a day.
The debate has been sparked following the request of several Macedonian associations to stop the high noises emitted by mosques in the cities. Macedonian associations supported by Macedonian citizens, in several neighborhoods of Skopje, have addressed petitions to respective institutions in order to stop the high volume emitted by the mosques of the capital, especially in the early hours of the morning.
Part of this debate was also the Islamic Religious Community and the Committee for Religious Communities in FYR Macedonia, an independent institution elected by parliament.
Macedonian residents in multi ethnic and multi religious quarters have also addressed the same request in other cities such as Diber, Tetovo, Kercova and other areas. Macedonian associations and Committee for Religious Communities have demanded for the noise emitted by minarets to be controlled.
Residents appeal for noise to be stopped
Macedonian residents which express their concern about the high noise emitted by mosques say that they are not against the Islamic religion, but only demand for their concern to find a solution.
“I have been living in the Butel quarter in Skopje for 20 years and I have never been afraid of religious prejudices. The high noise emitted by mosques especially in the early morning hours, causes many problems for us. Children wake up, and workers too, who must rest. We demand from responsible institutions to take measures, as there’s a law against noises”, says Mite S, from the multi ethnic and multi religious quarter of Skopje.
Residents of this quarter, but also residents living in the quarter of Aerodrom, Lisice, have filed their complaints in their communes, government, Committee for Religious Communities and other institutions.
Committee demands the reinstatement of the 2008 law
Valentina Bozinovska, head of the Committee for Religious Communities confirms that non government Macedonian organizations have launched incentives which require the solution of the problem caused by the prayers (azan) and which is emitted by mosque’ speakers.
She says that the problem is more serious and that the Committee must do more in order to assist the citizens.
“It’s necessary to reinstate an old article which has been removed by the law in 2008, in order for the noise caused by the azan to be at the level of the noise emitted by a human. We will soon set up work groups to solve this problem. We are constantly in touch with the Islamic Community, from which we will request the green light and support in this aspect”, told IBNA Valentina Bozinovska.
According to her, the institution that she leads does not have the necessary powers to intervene in such cases and that all complaints have been addressed to the Minister of Environment. “So far we have not received any reply, but we insist on finding a solution”, declared Bozinovska. But, the committee also has members who do not support this incentive launched by Bozinovska.
BFI: There’s a tendency to damage the image of religion
Islamic Religious Community of FYR Macedonia (BFI) says that it’s sorry about the manipulations and tendencies recently manifested by several non government organizations to damage Islam and Muslims, which at the same time are backed by state authorities such as the Committee for Religious Issues.
“Given that we live in a multi ethnic and multi religious country, we listen to the azan and church bells. In fact, Muslim believers also hear the bells, but they are obliged to keep quiet by not raising the voice of revolt, something which is not done by Orthodox believers”, told IBNA the spokesman of BFI, Abaz Islami.
He has also launched criticism against the head of the Committee for Religious Communities, stressing that she has often shown a lack of cultural knowledge and respect of spiritual sentiments. On the other hand, other religious communities don’t want to be part of these debates, making it clear that they don’t want to discuss topics which relate to religious aspects and believers in the country.
There’s no law for the noises emitted by religious objects
Ministry of Environment, the responsible institution of this issue has admitted that there’s no legal framework that sanctions the religious calls emitted by religious objects, in this case, mosques.
Ministry of Environment has issued a written reply where it stresses that there’s no legal regulation which prohibits the noise emitted by religious objects and other objects.
“The law doesn’t have a special provision for the measurement of the noise emitted by religious objects. There’s no issue regulated by law on this problem”, is the reply addressed to IBNA in relation to this issue.
The law on the protection against noises in the environment underlines the fines issued against subjects that cause noises. So far, no mosque has been fined for excess noise. /ibna/