Sleepy Cornish village kept awake by 700-strong party of Muslims broadcasting 5am call to prayer by loudspeaker
It is just a few days until Easter, the most important date in the Christian calendar. But for 700 Muslims who have gathered in a rural caravan park, this week has a different religious significance.
And to some of their neighbours, the thrice-daily calls to prayer are proving a strain on a harmonious relationship. The Iranian Muslims have converged on the Trevelgue Holiday Park in Porth, Cornwall, to celebrate yesterday's Persian New Year.
The holiday park, where worshippers said seagulls were louder than the call to prayers
Every day at sunrise, noon and sunset they broadcast their prayers, known as Adhan, on a loudspeaker system. But some residents are complaining that the noise is shattering the idyll of the quiet village near Newquay.
Neighbour Emma Brewer, 35, said "the novelty soon wore off" after the group arrived at the camp last weekend.
She said: "It lasts about 20 to 30 minutes and it is rather loud. I'm a bit naffed off by it, to be honest."
Another resident added: "We are going to have to put up with this all week. It's going off in the morning, at 5am."
A neighbour from nearby St Columb Minor says he was offended because he could hear the chanting as he made his way back from church.
He said: "Why was this broadcast at such a high level of volume so as to be heard miles away? Do the Christian church bells ring out in amplified volumes on Fridays in areas where they are at prayer?
"This was totally unnecessary especially on such an important day in our Christian calendar."
Yesterday the park's manager Mike Finnegan said prayers were at a lower volume in the morning to avoid upsetting neighbours, and insisted noise levels were checked with environmental health.
Prayer: But a loudspeaker system has prompted anger from neighbours at a caravan park (file image)
Other locals say they have not been disturbed by the religious ritual. Harry Heywood, of Restormel District Council, said the group arrived on Saturday and are booked in until tomorrow.
He said: "I haven't heard anything – only a very few people seem to be annoyed. It really isn't a problem. We get thousands of youngsters here every year when GCSEs finish and they make more noise.
"It's only a call to prayer and better than the 'thump thump thump' we get from teenage parties. I did have a couple of complaints from concerned residents who were worried about the potential noise.
"Environmental health officials and the park owner agreed asound level and I have received no more complaints since."
He added: "I've got to say that this is one of the quieter events. To think that there are 700 people there is amazing. I walk my dog nearby and haven't heard a sound."
Another resident said: "I loved it, I was hanging out of the window trying to hear. It's a unique sound that reminds me of travelling and I'd much rather hear it than church bells."
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Celebrations: Some of the Muslims at the Trevelgue Holiday Park in Cornwall
The event, organised by the Islamic Students Association, is a six-day celebration of Persian and Islamic culture.
Yesterday Muslim participants said the seagulls were louder than the call to prayers.
A mother of three from Manchester said: "It is a great time for us and brilliant for the kids to see somewhere a bit different. I can't believe how beautiful it is here. The sea is lovely.
"I'm very surprised if people have a problem with the prayers call. It's not very loud. They always put it at the lowest volume possible – sometimes we can hardly hear it.
"To be honest the seagulls and tractors around here are much noisier."