Knesset Approves Bill Muffling Muslim Call to Prayer

12 Feb
8:28 PM

The Israeli Knesset’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation, Sunday, gave approval for a new draft of the muezzin bill prohibiting mosques from using loudspeakers for the ‘Azan’, or call to prayer, labeling it noise pollution.

The draft bill must be voted on at the Knesset, in three readings, in order to be signed into a law, WAFA reports.

According to Israeli media sources, the muezzin bill prohibits the use of loudspeakers to call for prayer in Jerusalem and inside the Israeli borders. The bill would prohibit the call from 11pm to 7am.

Israeli Member of the Knesset Mordhay Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) and Coalition Chairman MK David Bitan (Likud) submitted the bill.

They claimed the calls to prayer, mainly early morning, disturb the sleep of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Arabs.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the bill, saying that people “of all religions have complained countless times about noise from the muezzin.”

President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the bill and said it “would drag the area to disaster.”

Arab League deputy secretary-general Ahmed Ben Helli termed the bill a “very dangerous provocation, adding the bill “strikes” against religious freedom.

Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta, an educational institute and government body, condemned the bill, saying it inflames the situation and contravenes freedom of worship. It called for international intervention to stop the violation.

Jordanian undersecretary for Islamic and Waqf Affairs, Abdullah Abadi, added that “an occupier cannot make any change to the city it occupies and things must remain the same.”

Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs, Yousif Idais, says the bill is an attempt to make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a religious one.

“This [bill] expresses racism that goes beyond politics and delves into religion,” he said, adding that it “is pushing the entire region into a religious war,” he said.

The call to prayer happens five times a day; the first of the five calls happens at dawn.

(Al Ray archive image. Edited for the IMEMC by chris @ imemc.org)

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