Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas on Friday denounced proposed Israeli legislation limiting the use of loudspeakers for religious purposes, warning such a law would face stiff resistance.
The Knesset on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to two controversial measures that would limit the time of day and volume that Israeli mosques can use for their traditional calls to prayer, addressing a longstanding complaint of some who live near Arab locales.
Ismail Haniyeh, deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, condemned the move.
“This decision will not pass [or go over] in Muslim world,” he said after Friday prayers in the Gaza Strip, which the group runs.
“Our people and nation will raise the Azan all over the world,” he said, using the Arabic word for the Muslim call to prayer.
While the bills in theory would apply to any religious place of worship, Muslims say they are clearly meant to silence the traditional call to prayer at mosques.
The measures have become commonly known as the “muezzin law” after the Muslim official charged with calling the faithful to prayer, often through powerful speakers mounted on minarets.
The notion of Israeli legislation silencing mosques has sparked outrage around the Arab and wider Muslim world, where it is claimed the bill unfairly clamps down on religious freedom for the country’s Muslim minority.
Supporters of the measures say the legislation is needed to prevent daily disturbance to the lives of hundreds of thousands Israelis, and that similar limitations are imposed in numerous European and Arab countries.
Wednesday’s bills were approved on a first reading after a heated Knesset discussion that turned into shouting matches between ruling coalition members and Arab lawmakers, some of whom tore copies of the legislation and were ejected from the chamber. The bill needs to clear two more Knesset readings in order to become law.