Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday said he backed a bill limiting the volume of calls to prayer from mosques – and he is now being accused of threatening religious freedom.
Speaking before a ministerial committee adopted the draft bill, the Israeli Prime Minister reportedly said:
I cannot count the times – they are simply too numerous – that citizens have turned to me from all parts of Israeli society, from all religions, with complaints about the noise and suffering caused them by the excessive noise coming to them from the public address systems of houses of prayer.
The bill now faces three readings in parliament before becoming law.
Israeli media reported that the bill would ban the use of PA systems.
While the draft bill applies to all houses of worship, it is seen as specifically targeting mosques.
East Jerusalem is also mainly Palestinian and traditional calls to prayer by muezzins through PA systems can be heard in the city.
The Israel Democracy Institute, a non-partisan think tank, has spoken out against the proposal.
Yesterdsay, one of the watchdog’s officials accused Israel’s right-wing politicians of dangerously using the issue to gain political points under the guise of improving quality of life.
Nasreen Hadad Haj-Yahya wrote in Israeli newspaper Maariv that “the real aim” of the bill:
Is not to prevent noise, but rather to create noise that will hurt all of society and the efforts to establish a sane reality between Jews and Arabs.
Netanyahu heads what is seen as the most right-wing government in Israeli history.