The human rights board at the office of the governor of the southern Mersin province - comprised of the governor, other senior local officials and civic groups - said that pre-dawn drum-beating to wake Muslims up was disturbing for children as well as sick and working people.

The decision was made at a meeting called after several citizens lodged complaints with the board.

Under the tradition, volunteers stroll the streets before dawn, loudly beating drums to wake believers up for a light meal, called sahur, after which the day-long Ramadan fasting begins.

Backing of cleric

The province's top Muslim cleric has lent support to the move, saying that drum-beating is not a condition set by Islam, the Radikal daily reported.

"If drum-beating disturbs people, it should be stopped. Today, there are technological means" to wake people up, mufti Mazhar Bilgin was quoted as saying.

The recommendation of the board has been sent to local municipalities, which are to decide whether to heed it.

Local administrations in three districts - one in Istanbul and two in the touristic Mediterranean province of Antalya - banned drum-beating during Ramadan this year, either because it caused noise pollution or disturbed non-Muslims, the Hurriyet daily said.