“Unify the times of your prayer calls,” said Powell. “Yes, master,” said Mubarak. The ridiculousness of this fantasy is only partly rooted in the immense distance between this “reform” and the reform that is really needed in Islam worldwide. From AP:
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) – The government said Saturday it wants to unify the calls to prayer that blare separately from thousands of mosque loudspeakers in the capital Cairo, but the idea was criticized by radicals as un-Islamic.
“We need one live voice prayer call from Cairo’s 4,000 mosques through a wireless network,” Minister of Religious Endowment Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq said.
Newspapers of opposition parties and militants writing in Islamic Web sites criticized the initiative as a step toward banning the dawn prayer.
“I did not expect this fuss in the newspapers, magazines and the satellite television stations as if it was a doomsday,” the minister told a news conference….
Prayer calls are blared through loudspeakers of mosques five times a day. Mosques in the same neighborhood in Cairo sometimes call Muslims to prayer two to three minutes apart, causing confusion among the worshippers.
Zaqzouq, whose ministry is in charge of religious affairs, said the government has heard the complaints of Cairenes.
“Everyday I receive complaints from people about the loudspeakers and when I ask them to make official complaints, they say they were afraid of being accused of being infidels or acting against religion,” Zaqzouq said.
Zaqzouq defended the unified prayer call, which he said opponents considered a heresy. “In fact, the loudspeakers is heresy because Islam has been doing fine for 1,350 years without loudspeakers,” he said.
Hear that, Hamtramck?
Zaqzouq dismissed some opponents’ criticism that the initiative was part of a U.S. pressure on Egypt to carry out religious and educational reform.
“The opponents say this initiative is an American one, as if every step of reform should come through instructions from America,” Zaqzouq said.