The Jezzar Pasha Mosque in Acre.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
A bill that would consider the Muslim call to prayer played loudly in public to be noise pollution is back on the agenda, after Yisrael Beytenu faction chairman Robert Ilatov submitted it this week.
The bill, originally drafted in the previous Knesset by then-Yisrael Beytenu MK Anastasia Michaeli, calls for a ban on the usage of a PA system to complete the call to prayer – called the idhan in Arabic – and any other sound emanating from a religious institution that is deemed noise pollution.
The idhan is recited five times per day, including at dawn, and muezzin in Israel use loudspeakers to call Muslims to prayer.
Ilatov explained that every person deserves freedom of worship and religion, but that it should not harm other people’s quality of life.
“Freedom of religion does not mean individual rights can be trampled, like the right to have a regular, daily routine including sleeping through the night,” he said. “This bill was submitted after years in which many Israeli citizens were forced to deal with intolerable noise coming from mosques five times a day and, worst of all, it wakes them from their sleep at sunrise.
“This situation must stop,” he added.
The Yisrael Beytenu MK pointed out that many places in Europe do not allow the muezzin’s call to be played out loud. In Amsterdam and Austria, it can only be broadcast on Fridays and at a certain decibel level. In France, loudspeakers may not be used for the call to prayer, in Belgium the muezzin’s call cannot be broadcast and in Switzerland, mosques cannot have minarets.
“We have to find the balance so that the loudspeakers do not disturb citizens in their everyday lives. I believe that there are other, creative ways to notify people of the time to prayer, like playing the [muezzin’s call] on an otherwise silent radio frequency,” Ilatov suggested.