Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet on Sunday approved a proposed bill that would put an end Muslim calls to prayer being blasted over loudspeakers across Israel.
Known as the muezzin, this mosque official is supposed to call the faithful to prayer from a mosque’s minaret five times every day. Modern mosques, like those found in most cities in Israel, amplify that call using multiple loudspeakers.
The so-called “muezzin bill” is aimed at protecting the rights of those Israelis, most non-Muslims, who don’t want such Islamic practices imposed upon their lives.
“The bill comes from a view that freedom of religion should not harm quality of life,” the bill’s creator, Member of Knesset Moti Yogev (Jewish Home), was quoted as saying by The Jerusalem Post.
Netanyahu offered his backing, noting that “Israel is committed to freedom for all religions, but is also responsible for protecting its citizens from noise. That’s how it is in cities in Europe. I support similar legislation and enforcement in Israel.”
The bill has received the approval of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation and must now be submitted for voting in the Knesset plenum.
As expected, Arab Muslim politicians slammed the bill as “racist.”
“Its whole goal is to create an atmosphere of hatred and incitement towards the Arab public,” insisted Joint Arab List party head Ayman Odeh.
But most Israelis would argue that it is in fact “racist” and hostile to impose religious practices upon those who are not members of your own religion.
Odeh and other critics also ignored the fact that the new bill does not prohibit the call of the muezzin, just the use of loudspeakers to amplify that call and thereby disturb the peace.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas threatened that if signed into law, the measure would “drag the region to disaster.”