After shutting down over 700 churches in Rwanda for failing to meet minimum standards, authorities have also banned mosques in the capital Kigali from using loudspeakers during the call to prayer.
The government says the calls, made five times a day, are disturbing people living in the Nyarugenge district, where the country’s largest mosques are situated.
“During the churches and mosques inspection in Nyarugenge sector on February 19, 2018, it came to our attention that mosques use megaphones installed on their buildings and this causes noise pollution,” Charles Havuguziga, the Executive Secretary of Nyarugenge sector said in the directive as quoted by local media KT Press.
Muslims from the district who used to wake up to loud sounds of the mosque speakers would now have to find an alternative, he added.
The directive has however been criticized by many, particularly the Muslim community. The Mufti of Rwanda, Sheikh Salim Hitimana in an interview with KT Press said they were shocked by the decision.
“We are going to meet the authority that issued the directive and discuss this decision. We will then share our stand,” he said.
The latest directive comes on the back of last month’s shutdown of over 700 churches in Rwanda following a government crackdown on their activities. These churches, mostly Pentecostal failed to meet minimum standards as they were found to have failed with building regulations in terms of legal status and safety.
The crackdown on the 714 churches was carried out by respective urban district authorities in partnership with the Rwanda Governance Board, local Rwandan media The New Times reported. Most of the affected churches were asked to suspend operations until they meet the standards expected of them. The heads of these places of worship were also warned against making noise that will disturb the peace in residential neighbourhoods.
The news of the shutdown of these churches drew divided opinions among residents in Kigali. While some believed the move will protect the general public, others felt that the churches involved should have been given ample time to fulfil those requirements or relocate to other areas.