Controversy now raging surrounding the public Call to Prayer


When mayors and city councillors decide to favour one group of citizens ahead of the rest, it is an alarm bell warning the residents and ratepayers of municipalities that the rule of law has been subverted.

If this is not checked and reversed then the thread that binds people together in a democracy as equal members of the society, in other words the rule of law, is unraveling and when broken will cause everyone grief.

The controversy now raging surrounding the public Call to Prayer relayed from mosques during Ramadan, the month of Muslim fasting from pre-dawn to dusk, in the midst of the total lockdown of the economy is certainly an example of local politicians privileging one group of people, in this instance based on their religion, over the rest.

In any political setting there are at least two sets of actors. In this Call to Prayer controversy there are at a minimum three sets of actors. There are the municipal councillors and mayors, then those Muslims who under whatever arrangement of their religious community are responsible for mosque related activities, and the rest of the residents and ratepayers (including Muslims) of the municipalities.

The public has been informed during this lockdown period resulting from the coronavirus pandemic worldwide that apart from those working in designated essential services everyone else need to abide by the rules and by-laws (including noise by-law) for this period promulgated and enforced by the three levels of government. No exception is allowed, and people have been warned of penalty if these rules get broken.

Religious institutions have not been given any allowance to provide their faithful with service even on the most significant occasion in their religious tradition if it occurs during the lockdown period. So, we witnessed that for the first time in a very long time, possibly going all the way back to the Black Death plague of the 14th-15th century that decimated the European population, that churches were not allowed to hold Easter services on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Christians were denied getting together in churches on the most important holy days in their religious calendar. Similarly, Jews were denied their religious gathering in synagogues for the Passover.

But we now see an exception has been made unilaterally by municipal authorities, as in Mississauga and in the Greater Toronto Area, in granting permission - or in not enforcing the requisite rules and by-laws during this lockdown period - to mosques allowing Muslims to publicly Call for Prayer and gather during their month of fasting.

Why this exception has been made is not explained?

If it is to accommodate Muslims in performing their religious rituals, then the immediate question is why such accommodation was not extended to Christians and Jews, and other religious traditions; or, better still, why was not this request from religious institutions foreseen and allowance made equally for all religions when the authorities were engaged in writing the by-laws and voting on them?

The optics of this controversy surrounding Call to Prayer by Muslims is that the municipal authorities are undeniably engaged in political favouritism for one identifiable group over others. They are at the same time openly insulting non-Muslims when they must know that such favouritism for expected political returns is an unscrupulous violation of the principle of equal fairness or justice for all under the rule of law.

The second group of actors is the Muslims engaged in running the affairs of their mosque institution. What we have here, and I speak from past experience, is authoritarian decision-making pushed by the vocal sub-set of Islamists who run just about every mosque in Canada.

The Islamist mind-set is not about religion as a private matter between man and God even when individuals gather together in a communal setting to pray, as in a mosque. It is about religion, Islam, as a politicized weapon to be wielded for Islamist supremacy over others, non-Muslims and Muslims.

Call to Prayer vocally in public is a matter of tradition, and not doctrinal faith. It is tradition whether faithful in any religious tradition are called to prayer by ringing of bells, cymbals, blowing of conches, horns, or any other means. The first requirement of tradition in a religiously pluralist society, however, ought to be respect for others and earning their goodwill for the maintenance of peace and order in society.

Canada is not Turkey or Iran, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. Mississauga or the GTA is not Istanbul or Cairo or Karachi where thousands of mosques send out Call for Prayer five times a day, and the Muslim majority population in these countries take it for granted that this tradition observed is a signature item of their faith.

But here in Canada, as elsewhere in western democracies, Islamists are bent upon pushing their supremacist agenda for a parallel Sharia-based society in the name of politically weaponized Islam. It is this agenda that is at play in Call for Prayer controversy.

Once again in the stealth jihad of Islamists Call to Prayer becomes a Sharia-requirement, as was the wearing of hijab/niqab by Muslim women, and demand made to be given special dispensation or accommodation by authorities in accordance with the requirements of multiculturalism under section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Those Muslims who are either not disposed to Islamists, or are unwilling to engage publicly in opposing Islamists for any number of reasons, of which fear of Islamists within their mosque community is uppermost, are taken for granted by Islamists that they will not protest openly against the Islamist agenda.

Consequently, by default and through intimidation of non-Islamist Muslims the Islamists have arrogated for themselves the role of being the only authoritative body or representatives of Islam. In return politicians and political parties reaching out to Islamists and coordinating with Islamists policies, as in this case of accommodating Call to Prayer, have empowered them to speak for and represent Muslims in general, while ignoring Muslim opinion that is anti-Islamist.

The third set of actors in this drama is the public at large. Among residents and ratepayers in municipalities where Call to Prayer has minimally aroused negative views the concern is if there are enough people prepared to challenge the authorities on the unfairness of making special allowance for Muslims, when such allowance is not extended to others.

Unless enough, if not a majority, of the public express their strong disapproval of how the rule of law is bent for Muslims in general at this time at the expense of the rest, the privileging of Islam over other religious traditions in Canada, a secular liberal democracy, will proceed unchecked.

So, what keeps the majority of the Canadian public not sufficiently moved to express strongly their disapproval of what their politicians are bent on doing in slowly shredding the rule of law, and then take the appropriate action of punishing those politicians and political parties for such conduct at the voting booth?

Again, the answer for such lack of disapproval and consequent action is not difficult or obscure. Enough members of the public are both lacking in information and understanding of the situation, such as the bubbling controversy around Call to Prayer. They are at the same time fearful of expressing publicly any politically incorrect opinion, which would then bring about accusations of bigotry directed at them by the mainstream media and the politicians who exploit such tensions for their own advantage.

Those non-Muslims in the public at large ask, as many ask me, why is it those Muslims who disagree with Islamists and if they are a majority, then why do they not publicly oppose Islamists? This is a fair question.

But then it is a question which can be asked of the public at large, who are a majority in a majority non-Muslim country: why is the majority public not sufficiently moved to strongly disapprove such political favouritism at display over Call to Prayer in public and hold the politicians accountable?

The failure of the Canadian public to defend the rule of law, as we witnessed during the most egregious undermining of the rule of law by Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government during the SNC-Lavalin affair in the 2019 election, inevitably has grave consequences.

When politicians and elected authorities can get away with subverting the rule of law, as is happening, and for which they are not held to account, we then are in the twilight zone of seeing our country slide further down the scale from one under the rule of law and equal justice for all into one where there is a privileged class or group of people with one set of rules for them and another for the rest of the society. Such countries are authoritarian, power there is unchecked and unaccounted for, and just about all Muslim majority countries lack a culture of democracy and freedom, and this is the direction where we are headed as we concede to the Islamist agenda.

Salim Mansur

May 6, 2020