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Kenya: Mosques Urged to Ignore Noise Law
Mike Mwaniki ("Daily Nation," December 8, 2009)

Nairobi — Mosques have been advised to ignore a recent directive by the National Environment Management Authority on noise pollution and continue making calls for prayers.

Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims secretary general Alhaj Adan Wachu Tuesday said the Islamic call to prayer is usually transmitted through a loud speaker which is "controllable and unharmful to human health and environment".

"The Islamic call to prayer lasts for three to five minutes and Supkem would therefore like to call on all Mosques to continue holding the prayers without any fear despite the new directive," Mr Wachu said.

In the new rules, Nema will be seeking to curb noise pollution; loud and unreasonable noise that disturbs the comfort and safety of others and the environment.

The new rules, known as the Noise and Excessive Vibration Pollution (Control) Regulations, 2009, will affect individuals, firms and organisations carrying out activities that produce noise and excessive vibration within a town's central business district, a residential area, a silent zone, or any other area declared a silent zone.

They also apply to street preachers, touts and those who promote or sell anything by shouting.

However, Mr Wachu said for Muslims and Islam, a call to prayer cannot be under any "circumstance or instances be equated to a sound or noise that is undesirable or nuisance."

According to the directive, street preachers, and other people planning to install public address systems that exceed permissible noise levels, however, will required to obtain a license at Sh 2,000, which Nema says will be valid for a maximum of seven days.

"Instead, chiefs and their assistants as well as police should be made personally liable and responsible for excessive noise bellowed within their respective jurisdictions," said Nema.


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