Within the framework of religious freedom, Muslims are indeed entitled to their own religious buildings, including mosques and minarets, even with a non-amplified call to prayer that is sung. However, discussion is required as to whether a loudspeaker-enhanced prayer call from a minaret does not violate the religious freedom of non-Muslims. The Director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom represents this view in a contribution to the IIRF Bulletin 2014/4.
In legal literature, the loudspeaker-enhanced prayer call is simply equated with liturgical (i.e., not with so-called “secular”) bell ringing. It is held that a loudspeaker-enhanced Islamic call to prayer can only be restricted by another human right, and for the general case there is normally nothing in sight that could be considered. However, the right to religious freedom itself could have a restrictive function. The right to religious freedom includes so-called ‘negative’ religious freedom, i.e. the right not to be forced to participate in religious acts, etc.
In Schirrmacher’s own words, equating loudspeaker-enhanced calls made by a muezzin has to be questioned because
“the call by a muezzin, by containing a verbal creed, forces other people to participate five times a day in the practice of another religion and thus has to do with so-called negative freedom of religion. In the end, the question about the evaluation of a loudspeaker-enhanced Islamic call to prayer will therefore have to concentrate on whether the fact that the muezzin call proclaims a formulated creed in which non-Muslims must also participate by listening violates negative religious freedom or whether this is denied. To deny that the muezzin call violates negative religious freedom would come by either saying that pure listening does not violate negative religious freedom or arguing that no one in our country understands Arabic anyway. A parallel to the muezzin call is in any case in my opinion not the ringing of bells but would exist if the Christian so-called Apostoles’ Creed were sung from church towers, amplified by loudspeakers for all to hear and understand, and repeated until it could no longer get out of one’s head (and becomes a ‘catchy tune’).”
“Admittedly, the subject is a controversial one and I am not a legal specialist. Rather, I look at it from the point of view of a sociologist and human rights activist, so there is plenty of room for lawyers to outdo me. However, I still want to initiate the discussion,” Schirrmacher added.