Jordan on Wednesday bashed Israel for approving a preliminary reading of a bill that proposes to prohibit religious institutions from using outdoor speakers and is understood to be aimed mostly at the country's mosques. Jordan, with whom Israel has had official diplomatic relations since the peace treaty between the two countries was signed in 1994, voiced concern over the possibility of the bill being approved, slamming it as a law that could potentially violate international human rights laws and conventions. According to the Jordan Times, Jordan's Minister of State for Media Affairs, who also serves as the government's spokesperson, Mohammad Momani, warned that Israel would be violating its commitment to the peace treaty if it eventually passed the bill into law. He explained that a clear provision in the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty stipulates that Israel respects Jordan's role regarding Islamic sanctuaries in Jerusalem.
By passing the bill, the Knesset would interfere with the Jerusalem Wakf's management of mosque affairs in the capital, he said. Momani also noted that international and humanitarian law apply to east Jerusalem.The Knesset voted 55-48 in favor of the controversial bill after a heated debate that also drew a lot of criticism within the country. As the current bill dictates, any "house of prayer" (synagogues, churches and mosques) would come under the law. A softer version of the bill, proposed by MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) suggests that the the bill would forbid the use of outdoor speakers to sound the call for prayer in residential areas from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.Yogev stated that the bill was a social one, not a religious one, and that what prompted it were complaints that calls to prayer were disturbing the quiet in residential areas. "I was approached by many citizens, including Muslims, to deal with this phenomenon," he said, referring to the controversy and ensuing concerns the bill has sparked. "We do not wish to harm worshipers by this bill," he added. "We, too, believe that God is one, God is great- Allahu akhbar. We are partners on this matter. But hundreds of thousands of citizens in mixed [Jewish and Muslim] areas all suffer from this." Udi Shaham contributed to this report.
Ayman Odeh rips copy of muezzin bill (credit: The Joint List)