Israel Moves Closer to Silencing Muslim Call to Prayer

Coalition partners press Netanyahu to move forward on legislation banning use of mosque loudspeakers

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition partners are again pushing a bill that would prohibit mosques from broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer over loudspeakers.

Known as the Muezzin Law, two versions of the bill passed their first readings in the Knesset last March.

However, fearing a local and international backlash, the government put the breaks on the legislation by introducing restrictions, primarily that the two versions of the bill be combined and be submitted for approval by Netanyahu's cabinet.

One version of the bill would prohibit the use of loudspeakers overnight and during the early morning hours, while the second forbids the use of loudspeakers altogether.

Both versions refer only vaguely to the use of loudspeakers by "places of worship," but since churches and synagogues do not impose their calls to worship on the general public, the obvious targets are local mosques.

Israel's Ha'aretz daily newspaper reported recently that the chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, MK Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home), has scheduled fresh hearings on the bills in order to prod movement from the government.

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