Bayit Yehudi MK revives controversial 'Muezzin bill'

Legislation seeks to ban houses of prayer from using outdoor loudspeaker systems, saying it lowers the quality of life for many residents who live nearby.

November 25, 2015 15:50
2 minute read.
The Jezzar Pasha Mosque

The Jezzar Pasha Mosque in Acre. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Muslim call to prayer will not be permitted on outdoor loudspeakers if a bill submitted by MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) on Wednesday becomes law.

The legislation, cosponsored by MKs from Likud, Kulanu and Bayit Yehudi, seeks to ban houses of prayer from using outdoor loudspeaker systems, saying it lowers the quality of life for many residents who live nearby.

Muslims hold five prayer services a day, which are preceded by the adhan, a call to prayer by a muezzin from a mosque’s minaret.

“Hundreds of thousands of citizens of Israel in the Galilee, Negev, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa and other places in the country suffer regularly and daily from noise as a result of the muezzin’s call in mosques.

The noise is a result of the use of a loudspeaker, which disturbs the rest of citizens several times a day, including early in the morning and at night,” the bill’s explanatory portion reads.

“Freedom of religion should not harm quality of life,” Yogev said.

The Bayit Yehudi lawmaker said the bill also will prevent the use of loudspeakers for incitement.

A similar proposal was submitted in 2011 by then-Yisrael Beytenu MK Anastasia Michaeli, who was criticized by Muslim activists and Arab MKs and received death threats. At the time, Michaeli pointed out that there are similar laws in some Western European countries.

Also Wednesday, the Knesset approved, in a preliminary reading, legislation by MK Anat Berko (Likud) under which minors under 14 who are convicted of terrorism would be given a prison sentence.

The bill differentiates between acts of terrorism – defined as crimes motivated by nationalism – and other crimes, for which minors under 14 cannot receive prison sentences.

The bill states that those under the age of 14 who commit terrorist acts will be kept in a children’s home until they turn 14, at which point they can be sent to prison.

Earlier this month, 12- and 13-year-old Palestinian cousins stabbed a Jerusalem Light Rail security guard in the capital’s Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood.

“We see children in the Islamic State cutting off heads and 11-year-old Palestinian terrorists, children who are recruited at the entrance to schools,” Berko explained in the plenum.

“This bill is a deterrent and a preventative measure,” she added. “It gives greater security to the citizens of Israel, Jewish and Arab.”

MK Osama Sa’adi (Joint List) wondered why Berko is not equally outraged about pedophilia, drug trafficking, murder and other crimes.

“She doesn’t want to put those people in jail, but she wants to put a Palestinian who throws a rock in jail. That is part of continued incitement against the Palestinians,” he stated.

The bill passed a preliminary reading with 64 in favor and 22 opposed.

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