Saudi Arabia is cracking down on overly loud loudspeakers used to call the faithful to prayer, as mosques increasingly drown each other out, the official SPA news agency said Saturday.
Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Saleh al-Sheikh ordered teams to inspect mosques in the holy city of Mecca, in Riyadh and elsewhere around the kingdom for too powerful speakers.
In Medina, imams have been told to make the initial summon to prayer over loudspeakers outside the mosque, and after that use only the internal speaker system to continue the ritual, SPA reported.
In Bahah city in western Saudi Arabia, ministry inspectors recently removed 100 speakers from 45 mosques because they were too loud and smothered out the broadcasts of other mosques.
The call to prayer is a central part of life for Muslims. There are five every day.
Many mosques put imams' sermons on the public sound system as well, so that those unable to go to the mosque can listen from home or the street.
But the ministry says some mosques now have speakers that can be heard as much as five kilometers (three miles) away.
The result is that mosques in close proximity, especially in places where there are many of them like Riyadh and Mecca, smother out each others' broadcasts to the point that they are unintelligible even inside the mosques, the ministry said.