CAIRO - A mosque in Sweden has received an initial approval to call Adhan (prayer call) from its minaret, the first such move in the Scandinavian country, the Gatestone Institute reported.
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, Ismail Okur, chairman of the Botkyrka Islamic Association, told the Swedish newspaper Dagen.
Now we want to have religious freedom.
Okur has filed a petition in January to allow Muslims to call Adhan from a Turkish mosque in the southern Stockholm suburb of Botkyrka.
After consideration, the city planning committee voted last week to scrap a 1994 ban on Adhan.
The decision to reverse the ban will be considered by the executive board of the city council on October 25.
If approved, Muslims will finally be able to make the call for prayers from the mosque, in the Fittja district of the city.
Okur said Swedish Muslims want to have permission to make Adhan for the weekly Friday prayers.
"It feels great that we have been through this, that we get a call to prayer for our big day on Fridays, he told Swedish Public Radio.
The Adhan is the call to announce that it is time for a particular obligatory Salah (ritual prayer).
The Adhan is raised five times a day.
But Muslims in the West were often unable to make Adhan for prayers as local authorities argue that the call would cause noise to residents.
The Muslim leader also hopes that the community will eventually have a muezzin for making the prayer calls.
"We have to start somewhere," Okur said.
He said he eyes to have the muezzin to make the Adhan seven times a week.
"It would have been too much to begin with. If the proposal goes through, it is about once a week, maybe 1-2 minutes. It is actually not much."
If the proposal is rejected, the Muslim leader will seek permission for having a muezzin on the first Friday of each month.
If that does not work, he will seek to get permits for two public prayer calls per year.
The prayer call is for us like ringing bells are for churches. It's important," Okur said.
Okur stressed that Swedish Muslims have the right to practice their religion in their own country.
We are more than 100,000 [sic] Muslims in Sweden. Should we not have our religion as well, especially here in Botkyrka, where we are so many?"Muslims make up between 450,000 and 500,000 of Sweden's nine million people, according to the US State Department report in 2011.