Karnataka CM on use of loudspeakers amid debate over Azaan row

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As matters regarding the Azaan-Hanuman Chalisa row escalated in Maharashtra, Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai weighed in speaking about the use of loudspeakers for the the Islamic call to prayer.

Bommai said, “This is a high court order. It’s not forced. Everything has to be done by talking and explaining to people.”

The Karnataka CM’s comments came a day after Karnataka minister KS Eshwarappa said “a solution should be found to address the concerns over the use of loudspeakers in mosques in the state”.

Bommai further clarified: “It is not only for Azaan, it is for all loudspeakers. So, we will take a call.” Last year, the high court had curbed the use of loudspeakers in religious places.

Eshwarappa on Monday was reacting to MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s comments on the use of loudspeakers in mosques, when he said: “The attempts by Raj Thackeray or Sri Rama Sene against the use of loudspeakers at mosques have to be naturally done by taking the Muslim community into confidence. There have been complaints for a long time that it disturbs students and patients during morning and evening hours.”

However, Eshwarappa’s comments were sharper. “This is not a competition for us to play Hanuman Chalisa loudly on speakers to counter them. I have no objections to you (Muslims) offering prayer but because of your using loudspeakers, if prayers are offered at temples and churches also in a similar way, it will lead to conflict between communities.”

Last year in March 2021, in an order with far-reaching implications, the Karnataka State Board of Auqaf has issued a circular to all the mosques and dargahs (mausoleums) in the state, prohibiting the use of loudspeakers between 10 pm and 6 am during Azaan.

Karnataka is already dealing with a controversy over Hijabs after headscarves – worn by girls and women of Muslim community – which were banned in classrooms. Following that with the loudspeaker comment has sparked far outcry nationwide. 

Hanuman Chalisa vs Azaan row in Maharashtra

The row that was started by Maharashtra Nirman Sena (MNS) where they played Hanuman Chalisa in public places to oppose Azaan being played on loudspeakers has escalated where a BJP leader has offered to bankroll loudspeakers to play the Hanuman Chalisa in public places, fanning a fractious campaign against the Azaan – the Islamic call to prayer – championed by right-wing political leaders.

“Anyone who needs a loudspeaker to install it in a temple can ask us for free! All Hindus should have one voice! Jai Shri Ram! Har Har Mahadev!” Mohit Kamboj, a billionaire bullion trader and among the richest BJP leaders, tweeted.

MNS chief, Raj Thackeray last week said he is not against any religion but his party workers will play Hanuman Chalisa in front of mosques if the state government does not remove loudspeakers outside mosques.

But other Maharashtra leaders did not support his comments. “People thought it was a BJP event. The law of the land prevails in Maharashtra. The home minister will do everything as per the law,” ruling Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Maharashtra minister Dilip Patel also took a balanced view of the situation and said that “some people were trying to create a divide in the society.”

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