Israeli lawmakers seek to expand the so-called “Muezzin bill” by allowing police to confiscate violating mosques’ loudspeakers and to fine them NIS 10,000.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin will seek an expansion of the so-called “Muezzin bill,” aimed at limiting noise levels in residential areas, by allowing police to confiscate the loudspeakers at mosques who violate noise pollution statutes between 11pm and 7am and fining violators a minimum of NIS 10,000
The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, which announced last month that it would renew deliberations on the controversial proposal to place decibel limits on mosques’ use of loudspeakers to broadcast the traditional Muslim call to prayer, will now have to approve the additions.
The measure was ratified in an initial vote on the Knesset floor last March by a vote of 55-48 following a raucous session that was marred by repeated shouting matches between Arab MKs and right-wing supporters of the measure.
MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home), an author of the bill, told TPS that the addendum was necessary in order to maximize the measures’ effectiveness.
“The changes that the ministers proposed will allow law enforcement to better enforce the law,” Yogev told TPS.
Proponents say the bill is necessary in order to ensure that people are able to sleep undisturbed. They note that many countries around the world, including in Muslim-majority countries, maintain regulations limiting the volume of the call to Fajr prayer. Notably, many supporters of the measure come from mixed Arab-Jewish cities and have complained for years about early-morning calls-to-prayer that often can be heard for miles. In places like Lod and Jerusalem, Jewish and Muslim residents alike say they have tried for years to negotiate with local Muslim religious authorities, but have found the latter unwilling to budge.
Critics, however, say the bill is little more than a populist attempt by a right-wing government to kick the Arab minority. They say the bill unfairly targets Israeli-Arabs, both in terms of religious freedom for Muslims and cultural norms, and add that Israel could enforce existing noise pollution laws which set limits on overnight noise production for factories and nighttime revelers.
About 20% of Israel’s population is Arab, and 83% of the Arabs are Muslim.