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Tolerance under stress as ‘loud’ mosque prayers draw complaints

Tolerance under stress as ‘loud’ mosque prayers draw complaints

SUNDAY, October 07, 2018

A BANGKOK MOSQUE in existence for more than 100 years has lately been the subject of many anonymous complaints about the loudness of the rituals conducted there.

“The complaints keep coming, very likely from the same person,” Sombat Wongsamai, a 68-year-old adviser to the imam of Bang Uthit Mosque in Bang Khao Laem district, said yesterday. The mosque had received complaints long before Wat Sai drew the ire of a neighbouring condominium resident disturbed by the pre-dawn ringing of bells. 
Observers have pointed out that such complaints from residents about religious centres would have been unimaginable in the city just a few decades ago. 
Sombat said the mosque, in response to the complaints, had lowered the volume of its loudspeakers, but the complaints kept coming. 
The Bang Kho Laem District Office earlier this month wrote to Wat Sai asking that its bell ringers exercise restraint. It apparently received complaints about the mosque too because it has several times sent officials there to gauge the volume of the loudspeakers. 
“But every time the measurements are made, the mosque is found to have complied with noise standards and the volume has never exceeded 80 decibels,” Sombat said. 

Tolerance under stress as ‘loud’ mosque prayers draw complaints

Friendly coexistence
He said he understood the complainant’s annoyance, but pointed out that other neighbours had long tolerated the amplified calls to prayer in the interest of mutually friendly co-existence.
“The mosque has been here for a long time, and long-time locals have never complained. They know that Muslims are being reminded of prayer times,” Sombat said. 
People in the area demonstrate the same tolerance whenever someone hosts a big party with loud music, he said. 
He was addressing the |complaints after the district office and the person complaining about Wat Sai’s bell came under heavy public criticism. 
Anusorn Ong-art, the imam at Bang Uthit Mosque, said it was 105 years old and most people in the neighbourhood were Muslims. 
“Even newcomers are usually able to adjust well to the local culture and way of life,” he said. 
Preeda Chuaphudee, an adviser to the Sheikhul Islam, visited Anusorn yesterday to offer moral support. 
He said there were more than 180 mosques in Bangkok and all had lowered the volume of amplified calls to prayer in recent years to avoid friction with neighbours.