Story By: Koen Berghuis, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
Far-right groups are calling for a ban on a mass composed by a British musician featuring the Islamic call to prayer with the words “Allahu akbar” that is set to be performed in a cathedral.
The concert is set to take place on Sunday in the St Rumbold’s Cathedral in the historic Belgian city of Mechelen.
The concert, which is meant to commemorate the end of World War One 100 years ago, will feature five choirs and one orchestra performing the mass ‘The Armed Man’ by British composer Sir Karl Jenkins, who is best known for hit song Adiemus.
The Armed Man, a 1999 music piece dedicated by Jenkins to the victims of the Kosovo war, is based on a traditional Catholic mass but is complemented with words from different religions as well as works from famous writers such as Rudyard Kipling.
The mass also includes words from the Kaddish, a hymn found in Jewish prayer services in which God is praised, as well as parts of the Adhan, the Islamic call to prayer which starts with the words “Allahu akbar” (“God is [the] Greatest” in Arabic).
The inclusion of the Adhan has angered the far-right Vlaams Belang (‘Flemish Interest’) party. Flemish Interest spokeswoman Kim Brooks also said that the “Islamisation of Mechelen is now a fact”.
She added: “If you believe this is an innocent evolution you still believe in Santa Claus.”
Some netizens supported the party and wrote on social media that “the city has gained yet another mosque” but many others did not seem to see what the issue was.
According to the concert organisers, Jenkins’ work has however nothing to do with Islam but is focused on peace.
A spokesman said: “We are turning this commemoration concert into an universal shout for peace, justice and a dignified existence for all.”
Many citizens have backed the concert, which has turned out to be so popular that it quickly sold out, and turned their ire at the far-right for opposing such an innocent goal of world peace.
One netizen wrote: “Maybe it’s time to come listening on Sunday. A call to peace has never done a single person any harm.”
Another netizen wrote: “Some of you have really turned quite bitter. I feel sorry for you.”