Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Call to prayer culture clash in Oxford

~from AFP. At last, we come to the question, how far is tolerance to be pursued and where do you draw the line? Now we come to Europeans confronting the fruits of the politically correct stance of cultural self-hatred and of indifferentism that rejects religion as being profitable for man and pleasing to God. Pope Benedict's call for Europeans to acknowledge the Christian roots of western civilization is not just nostalgia here but one of the continuing threads of his pontificate.
The Central Mosque was built in the east of the city, the "other Oxford", which is home to a poorer population and more immigrants than the historic centre of ancient, sandstone colleges, libraries and students on bicycles.

Cutting through the area is the main, multi-ethnic thoroughfare of Cowley Road, where Pakistani men in traditional tunics and other immigrants rub shoulders with the city's student intelligentsia going to and from their digs.

In this city, with a population of just 140,000, including nearly 20,000 students, nothing is very far away.

The mosque itself -- which can hold up to 700 of the town's 6,000 Muslims -- is little more than a 15-minute walk from Oxford's colleges, many of which were founded by Christian religious scholars as long ago as the 12th century.

But while the city's history is marked by Christianity's influence, some believe the mosque's imposing minaret defiles the city's famous skyline, which has remained largely unchanged for centuries.

Those feelings have been brought to a head since last November when mosque authorities expressed a desire to broadcast via loudspeaker the Muslim prayer call, the Adhan, sparking controversy that has not yet died down.

Wearing a three-piece suit with a bow tie and a gold chain hanging out of his jacket pocket, Chapman describes himself as "profoundly English" but rejects suggestions that he is taking an extreme view.

"I'm a liberal... I want to be inclusive but I don't want to be walked over," he said.

For him, the issue goes above and beyond the noise created by the call to prayer, which goes out five times daily in Muslim countries, and instead challenges English tolerance and threatens Britain's values and history.

"If Oxford accepts it, it would be used right across the country," he said.

Charlie Cleverly, the rector of the Saint Aldates church, in the heart of Oxford, says the city has long represented "the essence of Englishness".

"It is common knowledge, though few will say it, that 'radical Islam' has a programme to 'take Europe, take England and take Oxford'," he said.

"In this strategy, some say the prayer call is like a bridgehead, spreading to other mosques in the city."

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