The Zeenatul Islam Masjid (Muir Street Mosque). File photo: ANA/Courtney Africa

Cape Town - The African National Congress in the Western Cape has urged the City of Cape Town to dismiss a noise complaint made against the Zeenatul Islam Masjid (Muir Street Mosque) in District Six.

"All that is left as a reminder of what was once a vibrant community nestling under Table Mountain are the people who have returned to District Six and its places of worship," Western Cape ANC secretary Faiez Jacobs said in a statement on Sunday.

In District Six, different traditions and faiths were respected. Thus residents were familiar with the ringing of church bells for those who adhered to the Christian faith, as well as the call of the Athaan (call to prayer) for Muslims, he said.

"Despite the disgraceful eviction of thousands of residents from District Six and their forced resettlement on the Cape Flats, many returned on Sundays to attend their family church, or on Friday’s to worship in mosques, such as the place of prayer known to many as the Muir Street Mosque," he said.

According to media reports, a single "noise pollution" complaint had been lodged with the city, which was obliged in terms of the law to investigate. However, the city had tweeted that this would be done after Ramadaan and the call to worship would not be stopped. 

In a separate statement on Sunday, the Zeenatul Islam Masjid Trust said its position was that the Athaan had been rendered audibly by the best means available since its inception in 1919. This continued through District Six’s establishment in Cape Town as a vibrant community and continued through the forced removals. 

The call to prayer still existed today and the mosque had become part of the social fabric of the greater Cape Town area, together with the churches that remained and were also resistant to the apartheid government.

"The different calls to worship by mosques, churches and other places of worship is integral to the fabric of District Six and this diversity has spread to the rest of the world. Cape Town – the birthplace of Islam in South Africa 325 years ago – prides itself as an embracing city of many cultures and faiths. The Athaan needs to be understood in this context," the trust said.

Thus, the Athaan, the ringing of church bells, or any other call to worship could never be regarded as noise. The masjid accepted that the City of Cape Town was obliged to process the complaint.

However, the masjid would embark on a path to engage the city to review its bylaw dealing with noise pollution. The masjid believed this was significant not only for the Muslim community but all faith communities of Cape Town at large, the trust said. 

African News Agency/ANA