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Turn it up! Palestinian mayor protests Israel's call-to-prayer ban

Protests broke out across the West Bank on Friday [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 10 March, 2017

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The mayor of Baqa al-Gharbiyye joined protests across the West Bank by ordering the local mosques to turn up the volume during the five-a-day calls to prayer.

Protests broke out across the West Bank on Friday after Israel's parliament passed a controversial bill demanding mosques turn down the volume of speakers during calls to prayer, known in Arabic as the "adhan".

One Palestinian mayor ordered the local mosques to turn up the volume on their speakers on Thursday, as large crowds of protesters against the law gathered in Umm al-Fahm on Friday.

'Even non-democratic countries, known for their oppression, don't ban the adhan," said Morsi Abu Mokh, mayor of Baqa al-Gharbiyye.

"But the self-proclaimed 'only democracy in the Middle East' can do it and suppress religious freedoms."

Abu Mokh told Palestine's WAFA News that residents supported his protest and some had offered to place speakers on their roofs to amplify the call to prayer.

The controversial new law passed its first round of scrutiny in the Knesset on Wednesday, despite complaints that it purposefully targets the Muslim population.

"This law is an advanced form of racial incitement against the Palestinians," the Palestinian foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

"It encourages the dissemination of hatred between the followers of divine religions in Palestine - it is against the culture of tolerance and peace."

The controversial bill, backed by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu personally, aims to limit the volume of all religious announcements.

But the current wording of the bill appears to target the Muslim call to prayer specifically.

Netanyahu has said that residents "suffer" from the "excessive noise" during the ritual.

Some residents in Jerusalem have protested the bill by calling out the adhan from their rooftops at the same time as local mosques.

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