Turkey, call to prayer

Irish tourist collects signatures to keep mosque muezzin

An Irish woman collected dozens of signatures from tourists from her country, touched by the way a muezzin from the Turkish city of Kuşadası recited the call to prayer.

It is not the first time that the residents of some neighbourhood or district in Turkey have mobilised so that the imam or muezzin assigned to the local mosque stays if they are happy with him or, on the contrary, to kick him out if they think he is not doing well his work; what is more strange is that the person who mobilises is an Irish tourist and that many of those who support her are Irish tourists, too, moved by the way he recites the Muslim call to prayer.

This is the case of Hillary Dempsey, a 60-year-old Irish woman who has spent long periods during the last 15 years in Kuşadası, a well-known tourist destination on the Turkish Aegean coast; and the muezzin in question is Arif Ercan, whose recitation of the call to prayer (adhan in Arabic, or ezan in Turkish) has so impressed this woman that she has mobilised to continue hearing his voice five times a day.

Ercan arrived to replace another muezzin who a few days ago went on vacation and was in charge of the Hanım Mosque, located in the heart of Kuşadası. Dempsey was sitting in a nearby cafe when she heard Ercan’s adhan recitation, and she was so impressed that she recorded it on her mobile phone and went to the mosque in question to meet the muezzin.

It was very emotional, very impressive when I heard his voice. I have shown my friends the recording, and they were also moved. Ercan told me that he would soon return to the mosque to which he is assigned, so we decided to do something to keep him here in this mosque so we could continue to listen to him,” Dempsey explained to Turkish reporters who covered the news.

The woman then started a campaign to collect signatures to ask that Ercan be permanently assigned to the mosque, and she has collected dozens of signatures from Irish tourists. “As Christians, we feel a deep connection to the way he recites the call to prayer, and we are touched by his ability to make us hear his prayers,” the petition filled to the local governor said.