If you’re out and about in New York City on any given day, chances are good that your ears will be assaulted by the sound of music, usually hip hop or salsa, blaring at max volume from the radio of a car that, for your convenience, has all its windows rolled down. This palpable act of aggression has always struck me as the audio equivalent of flipping the bird to everyone who passes within a city block of the vehicle — a distance that ensures you won’t escape the cacophony altogether.
That experience and the motive behind it came to mind when I chanced upon a post at Breitbart titled “Paris residents unable to sleep through ‘intense’ overnight mosque loudspeaker sessions.” The piece, which draws upon an article at the French-language newspaper Le Parisien, begins:
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.
Mourad Salah, a spokesman for the Union of Méens Muslims, explains that the loudspeaker is not on the outside of the mosque but in the prayer room, adding that the doors are left open so that the faithful who remain outside can hear. The situation, he goes on the say, will persist until a mosque large enough to accommodate all the area’s Muslims can be constructed.
Le Parisien reached out to the Union of Democrats and Independents mayor, who said he is “aware” of the problem, adding that he contacted the local Muslim union, which he describes as “very responsive, whenever there is a problem.”
Yet, nothing has changed. Parisians who prefer to sleep at night continue to be kept awake by the prayer services and then, after they end, the verbal reflections on the service, which can last another two hours.
The motive behind the noise is not as base as the one that underlays the music in New York. But the effect is the same. Non-Muslim Parisians in the community will continue to be denied their nightly slumber until Ramadan ends or they succumb to fatigue: whichever comes first. Of course, they could always try “assimilating.” God knows the Muslims won’t.