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German mosque must stop broadcasting call to prayer, court finds

BERLIN (Reuters) - A mosque in northwest Germany may no longer broadcast its Friday midday call to prayer by loudspeaker for now after a local court upheld a challenge by a couple who live nearly 1 km (1,000 yards) away.

The Gelsenkirchen administrative court found that the town of Oer-Erkenschwick had not assessed the local Muslim community's request properly in 2013, but a court spokesman said on Friday that this did not prevent the mosque making a new application.

The local Christian couple had argued that the call to prayers violated their own religious rights.

Anti-Muslim sentiment and support for anti-immigration policies are growing in many parts of Germany after the influx of well over a million migrants from Iraq, Syria and other mostly Muslim countries, beginning in 2015.

Huseyin Turgut, a senior official with the affected mosque, said the court's decision was disappointing.

"The call to prayer lasts for two minutes, just around 1 p.m., but only on Fridays," he said. "We've never had any complaints and we have German neighbours who are much closer - just 10 metres away."

The town's administration could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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