Saudi minister defends volume limit on mosque speakers News from Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Islamic Affairs says the order responded to citizens ’complaints about the mosque’s loud speaker volume.

Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Affairs Minister is defending a controversial order restricting the volume of mosque speakers, saying she was motivated by complaints about excessive noise.

In a major policy last week in a country where the holiest Muslim sites are located, the Islamic Ministry of Foreign Affairs said speakers should not set more than a third of their maximum volume.

The order, which also limited the use of speakers primarily to issue a call to prayer instead of issuing full sermons, sparked a conservative reaction on social media.

Translation: Where is the disturbance in this? It brings nothing but peace and comfort. Give us back the mosque speakers.

Islamic Affairs Minister Abdullatif al-Sheikh said on Monday that the order was in response to complaints from citizens that the large volume is bothering children and the elderly.

“Those who want to pray do not need to wait for the call to the imam’s prayer,” al-Sheikh said in a video posted on state television.

“They should be in the mosque first,” he added.

Several television channels also aired Quranic prayers and recitals, Sheikh said, suggesting the speakers had a limited purpose.

In a country with tens of thousands of mosques, many welcomed the decision to reduce decibel levels.

But the decision also sparked resentment on social media, with a hashtag calling for a ban on loud music in restaurants and cafes to gain strength.

Sheikh said “criticisms of politics were being spread by” enemies of the kingdom “who” want to provoke public opinion. “

Politics follows the de facto liberalizing drive of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has ushered in a new era of openness in parallel with what observers call an emphasis on religion.

The young prince has eased social restrictions in the ultra-conservative realm, lifting bans for decades on cinemas and women driving, while allowing mixed gender attendance at music concerts and sporting events.

Relaxed social norms have been well received by many Saudis, two-thirds of whom are under 30, while playing with ultraconservatives.

Mohammed bin Salman at a King Faisal Air Academy cadet graduation ceremony, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2018 [Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Royal Court via Reuters]

“Moderate” Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has removed the powers of its religious police, which once provoked widespread fear, chasing men and women from shopping malls to pray and denouncing anyone who looked mixed with the opposite sex.

Prince Mohammed has promised a “moderate” Saudi Arabia as he tries to break with his austere image, while strongly repressing dissent.

Over the past three years, the kingdom has arrested dozens of women activists, clergy, journalists, and members of the royal family.

An unclassified U.S. intelligence report concluded that Prince Mohammed approved and probably ordered the killing. The Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who wrote critically about the Crown Prince and his policies, was assassinated by a team of Saudi agents at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. His dismembered body has never been recovered.





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