Tunisia to train callers for prayers at music institutes

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Tunisia will soon begin training the callers for prayers at the Rachidi Institute of Tunisian Music to improve their voices and performance. The initiative is set to assert the countries identity, resist extremism in an unprecedented move by the authorities.

The Minister of Religious Affairs, Ahmed Adhoum, revealed that this experiment is aimed at enhancing reciting the adhaan (call for prayer) as per the Tunisian school.

He told Tunis Africa news agency that Tunisia has an important heritage of listeners and readers heard by generations of Tunisians and their style of reading the Holy Quran.

The ministry will create a new generation of callers for prayer in accordance with this heritage.

"This is not a sort of fanaticism for the Tunisian school, it is about training Tunisians to hear the adhaan and reading the Quran with the voice of Tunisian readers," he said, adding that Tunisia was "open to all kinds of reading styles."

In a statement to Al Arabiya, Al-Shadi Shoro, director of the Higher Institute of Theology at Al-Zaytoonah University, said that the aim of the initiative was to "establish the country's identity by teaching the proper pronunciation of words as per the practice followed in the Tunisian style, by the professors of phonetics and music, denying that this is a mere new trend.

Shorou added that the Ministry of Religious Affairs is also seeking to "improve the performance of some of the mu’ezzins (callers for prayer) who have caused complaints from the citizens because of their poor voices and their use of loudspeakers at the mosques."

He added that the ministry is working to ensure that the mu’ezzins have a voice that is able and beautiful, to allow people to enjoy the adhaan and the prayer.

In the first stage, this composition will target the "big mosques" in Tunis, before implementing it across the country's mosques as a first move towards unifying the call for prayer.

The Rachidi Institute of Tunisian Music is one of the oldest Arabic music schools. Its foundation dates back to the 1930s, with the aim of preserving Tunisian musical heritage in the face of French colonialism.

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