Zeenatul Islam Mosque at sunrise. The noise complaint against a District Six mosque has taken another turn with the City saying it has not shifted the goalposts after conducting a “reasonable person” test. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - The noise complaint against the Zeenatul Islam Masjid in District Six has taken another turn after the City conducted a “reasonable person” test and found that the athaan (Muslim call to prayer) is a "noise nuisance".

The City of Cape Town met with the mosque committee regarding the  noise complaint. 

“During the meeting the City of Cape Town alluded to two sound tests being conducted that had conflicting results. After conducting the sound test to measure decibels, the City of Cape Town took it upon itself to run a second 'reasonable person' test. As far as the mosque is concerned, there is a distinct difference between 'noise disturbance' and the athaan, the ringing of church bells, or any similar call to prayer as an act of worship,” said Zeenatul Islam Masjid Trust. 

The masjid said the City reported back to the mosque's committee during the meeting that its own scientific test showed that the sound level of the athaan fell within the accepted decibel measure, as set out by the by-law.

The second test was a “reasonable person” test that led City officials to find that the athaan is a “noise nuisance”. This “reasonable person” test, is subjective and changing the terms of reference of the complaint amounts to a shifting of the goalposts by the City of Cape Town,” the masjid said.

During the month of Ramadaan a noise complaint against the mosque was made by an individual. 

“The mosque committee understands the seriousness of this challenge and the implications should this complaint succeed – not just for Zeenatul Masjid, but for all faith communities. We call on the City of Cape Town to heed the overwhelming public support for the athaan and to dismiss the complaint.” 

District Six Ratepayers and Residents Association chairperson Asa Salie said: “This is the start of gentrification guided by the City with its by-laws. 

"The athaan should not even be up for discussion.” 

The City's Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Zahid Badroodien, said: "The Western Cape provincial noise control regulation requires that the local authority regulates noise. The regulation permits a certain level of noise by which industry, institutions and people may conduct their business in a manner which does not unduly impact others. This regulation applies to all types of noise, it does not exclude religious noises. This noise level is termed a ‘disturbance’ in terms of the provincial noise control regulations. 

"There were ‘not’ two conflicting technical tests. The first was a technical test in terms of the ‘disturbance’ procedure and the second was a non-technical assessment in terms of the ‘nuisance’. The City has not ‘shifted the goalposts’, but has applied the law as mandated.”

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