Israel gives initial approval to ‘muezzin law’

A new law that pertains to all religions and houses of prayer is primarily aimed at muezzins who use mosque loudspeakers to call worshipers for prayer in the wee morning hours, disturbing the lives of many citizens in the process. 

The Knesset’s plenum gave initial approval on Wednesday to a law that prohibits the use of a public address system to call worshipers to prayer or to convey religious or national messages.

The Knesset voted 55-48 in favor of the bill in its first reading. The legislation still requires another two votes by the Knesset’s plenum to become law.

The law is primarily aimed at muezzins who use mosque loudspeakers to call worshipers for prayer in the early morning hours and late in the night, disturbing the lives of many citizens.

The law pertains to all religions and houses of prayer in Israel.

The discussion at the Knesset prior to the vote spiraled into a shouting match between supporters and detractors, the latter including mainly Arab Members of Knesset (MKs).

MK Ayman Odeh of the Arab Joint List was removed from the plenum after ripping up a copy of the bill. “The muezzin bill is nothing more than persecution of the Arab community, of Arab presence in the public sphere and against the Arabic language,” Odeh asserted.

Two other Arab MKs were also removed for misconduct.

Relating to the proposed law in November, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “Muslims, as well as Jews and Christians, also suffer from this. I cannot count the times, they are simply too numerous, that citizens have turned to me from all parts of Israeli society, from all religions, with complaints about the noise and suffering caused them by the excessive noise coming to them from the public address systems of houses of prayer.”

Netanyahu underscored that the law was about noise and public peace, not about religion.

“Israel is a country that respects freedom of religion for all faiths. Israel is also committed to defending those who suffer from the loudness of the excessive noise of the announcements. This is how it is in many European cities and in many places in the Islamic world, where the loudness of the announcements is limited out of consideration for the populace as a whole. I support similar legislation and enforcement in the State of Israel,” he stated.

The Palestinians are threatening to go to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to stop the legislation.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News