Right-wing lawmaker looks to silence Israeli mosques

Right-wing lawmaker looks to silence Israeli mosques

Jewish Home’s Moti Yogev argues the right to peace and quiet trumps the freedom to broadcast the call to prayer over loudspeakers

A view of the shoreline and al-Bahr Mosque from Jaffa's old city (photo credit: Michal Shmulovich/Times of Israel)
A view of the shoreline and al-Bahr Mosque from Jaffa's old city (photo credit: Michal Shmulovich/Times of Israel)

In a controversial move, Knesset member Moti Yogev from the right-wing Jewish Home party on Wednesday proposed a bill that would ban mosques in Israel from broadcasting public calls to prayer over loudspeakers.

Yogev argued the five daily public prayer calls are disruptive and negatively affect the quality of life of non-Muslim residents living near Muslim neighborhoods, villages and cities in Israel.

“Hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the Galilee, Negev, Jerusalem, Tel, Aviv, Jaffa and central Israel routinely suffer from the calls of the muezzin,” the bill states according to the religious news website Kipa.

“The noise made by these public calls disturbs the rest of the citizens several times a day, including in the early mornings and at nighttime,” it said.

MK Moti Yogev of the Jewish Home party (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
MK Moti Yogev of the Jewish Home party (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Some 20 percent of Israel’s population are Arab, most of them Muslim, making the calls to prayer a familiar sound in many parts of the country.

Likud MKs Miki Zohar and Nurit Koren, Jewish Home MKs Bezalel Smotrich and Shuli Muallem-Refaeli, and Kulanu MK Merav Ben-Ari have all endorsed the legislation.

The bill is unlikely to gain the support of the coalition and pass the Knesset. Similar bills have been proposed in the past but have never garnered enough backing.

“The bill takes the approach that religious freedom should not harm the quality of life, and proposes a ban on using public address systems to call worshipers to prayer, or to convey religious or national messages, which includes incitement,” Yogev said of his initiative on Wednesday, according to Kipa.

Yogev, a second-term lawmaker with the right-wing religious nationalist Jewish Home party, is no stranger to controversial proposals. Earlier this month, Yogev was slammed by Israeli lawmakers after he proposed incarcerating family members of Palestinian terrorists in internment camps and feeding them rations of just bread and water as a means of deterring future attackers.

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