Muslim call to prayer won't be silenced in Israel
A government-backed Israeli bill to limit the volume of calls to prayer (adhan) at mosques in the country has been put on hold after it was blocked by the minister health who argued it could affect similar loud Jewish prayers.
The law had been due to get its first reading in parliament this week until Yaakov Litzman, a member of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, stepped in late on Tuesday to block the bill.
"For thousands of years, the Jewish tradition has used various tools, including shofars (a ram's horn) and trumpets" for Jewish holidays, the minister said in his appeal letter.
"Since the technology developed, loudspeakers have been used to announce the onset of the Sabbath, at the permitted volume level, and in compliance with every law," he added, referring to the weekly Jewish day of rest.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had backed the controversial bill, which has been slammed as a threat to religious freedom by Palestinian officials and religious leaders.
Former grand mufti of Jerusalem, Ekrima Sabri, told The New Arab that the bill was "one of the most racist and discriminatory laws" ever proposed.
"Palestinians in Jerusalem and Muslims across the whole country will oppose [the bill] and the call to prayer will be remain, deafening the ears of the racist fascists who hate it. The call to pray is one of the rites of Islam that has been part of this religion for more than 1,400 years," Sabri said.
|Abu Arar performs the call to prayer in the Knesset [YouTube]|
In protest against the bill, Arab-Israeli lawmaker Taleb Abu Arar chanted the Muslim call to prayer in parliament earlier this week, provoking furious protests from some Jewish members.
The current Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammad Hussein said that bill was part of Israel's ongoing "war" against the al-Aqsa mosque and its attempts take control of the Islamic holy site.
"This law can only be described as racist, authoritarian and a violation of the freedom of worship. It is only the latest in a long chain of Israeli attacks against Palestinian religious places," Hussein told The New Arab's Palestine correspondent.
The bill was proposed by members of the far-right Jewish Home Party, and was adopted by a ministerial committee on Sunday. It was due to go through three readings in parliament before becoming law.
It will now be put on hold until a ministerial committee holds a second vote.
The call to prayer, known in Arabic as adhan, is called out from mosques five times a day through loud speakers that summon Muslims to prayer.
This month, Israeli right-wing extremists held protests outside the home of Israeli Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, demanding measures against the call to prayer they claimed was causing them distress.