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Lawmakers propose ban on minaret loudspeakers

Coalition MKs seek to cut down on amplified calls to prayer at mosques across the country

A bird flies towards the minaret of a mosque in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin, June 28, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Mohammed Ballas)
A bird flies towards the minaret of a mosque in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin, June 28, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Mohammed Ballas)

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will vote Sunday on whether the coalition will support a bill banning muezzins from using loudspeaker systems for the Muslim call to prayer.

The prayer calls, traditionally announced through minarets five times a day and often amplified with loudspeakers, have been a frequent target of right-wing ire, with some claiming they are an unnecessarily loud nuisance that echoes into Jewish towns and neighborhoods.

Legislative efforts to stymie the calls have always failed to garner large-scale support, though, and it’s unclear whether this newest effort will find more backing.

The bill was penned by Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev and is supported by coalition colleagues from the Likud and Kulanu parties, according to the Haaretz daily.

Supporters of the new legislation say freedom of religion should take a backseat to quality of life.

The bill would aim to prevent both loud calls to prayer and “conveying religious or nationalist messages, or even words of incitement.”

“Hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens — in the Galilee, Negev, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa and other places in central Israel — suffer regularly and daily from the noise caused by the call of the muezzin from mosques,” reads the proposed legislation.

The bill would seek to ban sound systems at all houses of prayer in the country, not just mosques.

The interior minister would, however, be able to exempt certain houses of worship from the ban, Haaretz reported.

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