When told that Sweden is historically a Christian country, Ismail Okur responded, “So perhaps it was before, in the 1930s and 1940s. Now it is a new era.”
Amren (H/T Susan K) A mosque in Stockholm has received initial approval to begin sounding public prayer calls from its minaret, the first time such permission has ever been granted in Sweden.
A majority of the members of the city planning committee in the southern Stockholm suburb of Botkyrka voted on September 25 to repeal a 1994 prohibition on such prayer calls, thereby opening the way for a muezzin to begin calling Muslims to prayer from the top of a 32-meter (104-foot) minaret at a Turkish mosque in the Fittja district of the city.
The issue was put to a vote after Ismail Okur, the chairman of the Botkyrka Islamic Association (Islamiska föreningen i Botkyrka), filed a petition with the city in January demanding permission to allow public prayer calls at the mosque.
In an interview with the Swedish newspaper Dagen, Okur said earlier generations of Muslim immigrants “did not dare” to press the issue, but that he represents the “new guys” who are determined to “exercise their right to religious freedom” in Sweden. Okur said: “We have lived our whole lives in Sweden. We have paid taxes. We have been exemplary citizens. We have given a lot to Sweden. Now we want to get a little back. Now we want to have religious freedom.”
In an interview with Swedish Public Radio, Okur said his initial objective first and foremost was to obtain permission to make prayer calls every Friday in connection with Friday prayers “to begin with.” He said: “It feels great that we have been through this, that we get a call to prayer for our big day on Fridays.” According to Dagen, Okur does not rule out eventually having a muezzin making prayer calls seven days a week. “We have to start somewhere,” he said. (Next, they will be blasting it 5 times a day, every day)
The planning commission’s decision to repeal the ban will now be considered by the executive board of the city council on October 25. If the board approves, the mosque will be allowed to start sounding the call to prayer effective immediately. The decision is especially significant because it will set a precedent for all of the 200 other mosques in Sweden.
Although there are no official statistics of Muslims in Sweden, the U.S. State Department reported in 2011 that there are in the country between 450,000 and 500,000 Muslims, making up around 5% of the total population.