This Jewish leader is defending Muslim mosques in Sweden
Aron Verständig, head of the Stockholm Jewish Community group, said that preventing mosques from holding calls to prayer "would damage integration in the country", according to Swedish website The Local.
Verständig went as far as comparing the emerging debate about the subject to how Jews were treated in Sweden in the 18th century, "where there was hysteria over Jewish immigrants bringing instability to the country due to their unfamiliar customs", he said, in reference to the Islamic ritual.
"These kind of arguments have occurred throughout history. In Sweden we've always had them: people come here, then there are big demands placed on them in order to fit in, and that's not something that helps integration."According to The Local, the leader of the Christian Democratic party had instructed local politicians to vote against allowing the call to prayer.
The controversy seems to have been triggered by a request from a mosque in the town of Växjö in southern Sweden for a permit to broadcast the call for prayer on Fridays - but not on a daily basis. Växjö is not the first to do so, however, with a mosque in a suburb of the capital already broadcasting the call to prayer on Fridays.
"It's not like there are thousands of mosques asking for calls to prayer in Sweden, it's only one that asked recently and this thing came up, so the whole thing is being exaggerated," the Jewish leader said.
"But it's an election year," he added.
The broadcasting of calls to prayers from mosques has frequently met with opposition in communities where Islam is a minority religion, including in Cologne, Germany. In Switzerland, mosques were banned from building minarets following a 2009 referendum.
The majority of mosques in Europe do not use loudspeakers for the adhan, preferring to keep the call to prayer within the mosque.
Amid rising Islamophobic and anti-immigrant sentiment in the West due in part to the refugee crisis, right-wing political groups have inflated the issue, claiming that a tide of "Islamisation" is creeping in in Christian-majority Europe.