Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, the national Mosque of Indonesia. Photo: iStock.
Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, the national Mosque of Indonesia. Photo: iStock.

A set of guidelines has been launched on the Azan – the call to prayer in Islam – after a Chinese-Indonesian woman was jailed earlier this month for blasphemy after complaining about the noise of mosque broadcasts.

Only those who have melodious voices can issue the Azan while the broadcast must fulfill the basic requirements and be easy on the ears, according to the new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Religious Affairs in Indonesia.

Experienced personnel should handle mosque loudspeakers to avoid droning sounds, humming and other sounds that could raise animosity towards mosques.

Mosques are also required to broadcast the Azan at appropriate hours, not when people are likely to be sleeping, resting and praying. Sound levels should be kept at a minimum while conducting a prayer. And non-prayer activities such as Quran recitals should only be broadcast within the mosque.

“The use of loudspeakers in Mosques, Langgar and Musholla” laid out guidelines on when and how mosques should perform broadcasts, The Star reported.

Meliana, a 44-year-old woman of Chinese ethnicity and Buddhist faith, was jailed for 18 months as she had complained about the mosque’s noise in July 2016. She was later charged with blasphemy while the dispute triggered riots that led to at least 14 Buddhist temples in Indonesia being damaged.

Lawyers and civil rights groups described the sentencing as excessive and silly. Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah — the two biggest Islamic groups in Indonesia – also questioned if the blasphemy charge was really necessary in this case.

Read: Woman charged with blasphemy for saying mosque was too noisy

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