Islamophobia heard loud and clear in Canada’s adhan controversy
Cities exempting mosques from noise bylaws to allow the call to prayer during Ramadan have sparked a backlash in some quarters
When the idea was initially floated during Ramadan that the Adhan, or Muslim call to prayer, would be publicly broadcast in non-Muslim majority areas, my Islamophobia radar went into high alert, thinking of the backlash – and it came swiftly.
I had calculated that the negatives would far outweigh the positives, especially when there is so much anti-Muslim hate already.
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw all the support from the general public in Western cities. So many non-Muslims signed petitions supporting the initiatives. One of the earliest mosques in Toronto, the Islamic Center of Toronto (commonly known as Jami Mosque), even held its first public adhan and offered break-fast food to the neighbours.
I also saw a few posts on social media from Muslims who said how this Ramadan felt different for them due to Covid-19, but that this changed when they heard the adhan while sitting at home or in their cars outside a mosque. It was the closest they could get to a mosque this Ramadan. It made some feel whole again.
This is the Canada most people hear about. Diversity is celebrated and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects religious rights, as dictated by individual subjective conscience. The test is not what the clergy or even the majority in a group believe, but whether the person’s belief is sincerely held.
“People need comfort and familiarity during this difficult time,” Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie posted on Facebook, when Mississauga joined Toronto and a growing list of Western cities to exempt mosques from noise bylaws.
What really got my attention, though, had nothing to do with wanting to hear the adhan over loudspeakers. It had everything to do with confronting hate and Islamophobia
“I hope this will help our Muslims [sic] friends in their observance of this sacred month of devotion and spiritual reflection. Ramadan Mubarak!” tweeted Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.
This is my kind of Canada, accepting of all.
What really got my attention, though, had nothing to do with wanting to hear the adhan over loudspeakers. It had everything to do with confronting hate and Islamophobia.