The loudspeakers of a Mée-sur-Seine mosque blasting out prayers and songs in the early hours of the morning through Ramadan caused chaos with the sleep patterns of Parisians living in the French capital’s south-eastern suburb, locals have said.
As well as operating year-round on Friday afternoons, the loudspeakers were in action from 11.30 pm each night until past 1 am during the Islamic holy month so as to allow Muslims praying on the streets outside, due to lack of space in the mosque, to hear.
“The loudspeaker is so intense,” a resident told Le Parisien. “We hear prayers, songs and readings delivered in a fashion that is completely disrespectful of people who follow other religions, and atheists.
“Some nights it is impossible to get more than four hours sleep because even after the prayers end, the faithful then engage in discussions which can last for another two hours.”
The French newspaper reports that frustrated locals said neither Mée-sur-Seine’s mayor, Franck Vernin, nor the police responded to their complaints.
Contacted by Le Parisien, the Union of Democrats and Independents mayor said he is “well aware” of residents’ distress at the nocturnal noises emanating from the mosque, reporting that he contacted the local Muslim union to “ensure calm”, asserting that the Union of Méens Muslims (UMM) are “very responsive, whenever there is a problem”.
UMM boss Mourad Salah said the mosque “tried to solve the problem by reducing the sound”, but explained the noise pollution will continue to be an issue until Muslims in the district have a sufficiently large place of worship.
“The loudspeaker is not located on the outside of the building, but in the prayer room, and the doors are left open so that the faithful who are having to pray outside can hear.
“For more than five years we have been doing this for want of a more suitable place to pray,” he said, explaining that the mosque held more than 300 people during Ramadan, with as many faithful praying outside on the street on some nights this year.
“On the night of June 21 to 22, we were collecting alms to build a mosque which properly serves our needs, and there were 150 people out there.
“I understand that locals are fatigued with the heat and we apologise for that,” said the UMM chief, adding: “But the ball is in the mayor’s court. Until we have a place of prayer worthy of the name, with a much greater capacity, it is difficult for anything to change.”
President of the Union of Seine-et-Marne Muslims, Boudjema Hammache, agreed with Salah, telling Le Parisien: “It is a duty to show respect and appeasement to others.”