Israeli proposal to quiet call to prayer draws Muslims’ ire


JERUSALEM — A proposal to make mosques reduce the loudspeaker volume of their call to prayer has sparked an uproar among Israel's Muslims, underscoring their fraught relationship with the country's Jewish majority.

Supporters of the bill, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have painted it as a matter of quality of life. But it has deepened a sense among the Arab minority that it is being increasingly marginalized by his hard-line government.

"The call to prayer came before the racists. The call to prayer will remain after the racists," said Ayman Odeh, head of a joint list of Arab parties in parliament.

The bill, which received initial support from a committee of Israeli ministers this week, proposes to limit the volume of public address systems of all houses of prayer in Israel.

But the bill's sponsor, a lawmaker from a nationalist Jewish religious party, made clear the target is mosque loudspeakers, and it has been dubbed the "muezzin bill," referring to the man who delivers the call to prayer.

Devout Muslims pray five times a day, beginning around 5 a.m. In Israel, the call to prayer is often loud enough to wake up residents in Jewish neighborhoods or towns who live in close proximity to Muslim communities.

"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," Netanyahu told his Cabinet this week.

"Israel is a country that respects freedom of religion for all faiths. Israel is also committed to defending those who suffer from the loudness of the excessive noise of the announcements," he added.

But Palestinians and Arab citizens of Israel see the initiative as yet another affront by an increasingly hostile Israeli society and leadership.

Arabs make up one fifth of Israel's citizenry, but they are generally poorer and less educated than Jews and suffer from discrimination and substandard public services. Some politicians have questioned their loyalty to the state.

On election day last year, Netanyahu galvanized his hawkish supporters by warning that "Arab voters are going in droves to the polls." The comments drew accusations of racism, and Netanyahu later apologized.

Some detractors have said the bill is unnecessary, since Israel already has rules regulating excessive noise. Still, it has garnered support from many secular liberals who normally are at odds with Netanyahu's conservative government.

Zvi Barel of the liberal Haaretz newspaper said he would support efforts to limit the place of religion in the Israeli public sphere if the bill wasn't discriminatory.

"Israeli liberals, whether Jewish or Arab, can't support this excellent bill, because it is intended to harm Muslims," he wrote in an op-ed.

A planned vote on Wednesday was blocked after ultra-Orthodox Jewish lawmakers raised concerns that it could also affect the sirens that announce the start of the Jewish Sabbath and holidays in many communities.

"I think the whole law is unnecessary," Health Minister Yaakov Litzman told Israeli Army Radio Wednesday, adding that he would support an amended bill that made an exception for Jewish sirens. A ministerial committee will revisit the bill.

Netanyahu has claimed that many European cities and Muslim countries place limits on loudspeaker volume.

In Ireland, Muslims looking to construct mosques must concur that there will be no open call to supplication. Nearby Muslim pioneers have acknowledged the limitation, refering to religious lessons on indicating regard for neighbors, and more than twelve mosques have been worked since 1996. 

In Germany, just around 30 of the 160 authority mosques have a call to supplication, as per the DPA news organization. While inhabitants frequently whine, powers say it is secured by the privilege to religious opportunity, however still subject to general laws against making inordinate clamor. 

The patriot Alternative for Germany and different far-right gatherings have attempted to abuse the issue, so far without much of any result. However the gathering has done exceptionally well in nearby races by crusading against Islam and is surging as the nation heads into a noteworthy race year in 2017. 

In Britain, nearby city and town chambers intervene intermittent disagreements about early morning petition calls. There is an online appeal to in support of permitting ranges with high Muslim populaces to have "a boisterous call for petition" no less than three times each day, yet it has not yet produced the 100,000 electronic marks required to put it before Parliament. 

While France has no boycott, French mosques don't sound open calls to supplication, evidently out of regard to the nation's mainstream conventions. 

In like manner, not very many mosques in the U.S. impact a call to petition. Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said most American mosques are not situated in the heart of Muslim people group. "Regardless of the possibility that they communicate it, the probability is that individuals are not sufficiently close to hear it," he said. 

Dawud Walid, executive of CAIR's Michigan part, said the get to supplication rings out from a few mosques in Detroit and suburbia of Hamtramck and Dearborn, all with substantial Muslim populaces. In a 1979 choice, a Detroit judge controlled a mosque had a protected ideal to communicate its supplication call. 

Noisy calls to petition are pervasive over the Middle East. 

Pakistan bans its Ahmadiyya people group, who are chided by standard Muslims as apostates, from broadcasting the call to supplication. It additionally keeps religious pioneers from booming their sermons, dreading impelling. 

Egypt has endeavored to introduce a framework where mosques would utilize a concurrent, recorded call to petition. In any case, the proposition has attempted to get off the ground. Authorities say the Ministry of Religious Endowments, which takes care of mosques, is arranging the buy of hardware for the arrangement. 

Related Press journalists Shawn Pogatchnik in Dublin, Kathy Gannon in Islamabad, Gregory Katz in London, Sylvie Corbet in Paris, Frank Jordans in Berlin, Jeff Karoub in Detroit, and Hamza Hendawi and Mariam Fam in Cairo contributed.