Councillors at Stockport Council in Greater Manchester have a rather broad notion of accommodating religious sensitivities. Acting under its authority of “residential amenity,” the Council has ordered a cafe to remove an extractor fan because the fan blows the smell of food outside, including the smell of bacon that offends Muslim neighbors.
Beverley Akciecek, 49, was told her next-door neighbour’s Muslim friends felt “physically sick” and complained of the “foul odour.” As an offensive element to Muslims, she had to tear down the fan system.
She is appealing and noted that her husband Cetin, 50, is a Muslim and that she has a significant number of Muslim customers.
For the Council, this could be a case of jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. I fail to see how the council can force the removal of smell or sounds that might be offensive to one religion or another. Where does such an enforcement policy end? What about Church bells or the “call to the faithful”? How about incense from Buddhist ceremonies?
There may be a stronger claim to act in cases of clear malicious acts. We have seen such malicious acts directed against Muslim communities in the United States, as with the recent controversy of pig races in Texas. Even with aesthetic nuisances (which are generally not actionable), there is an exception for malicious acts such as “spite fences.” The problem is that such acts can be an exercise of free speech and raise countervailing constitutional issues.
Source: Daily Mail