CAIRO – Risking stoking already simmering tensions in occupied Palestinian territories, a right-wing Israeli lawmaker has proposed a new legislation that would silence Muslims’ call to prayer or adhan.
“Hundreds of thousands of citizens in Israel, in the Galilee, the Negev, Jerusalem and other locations in central Israel suffer on a regular basis from noise that is caused by muezzin [prayer caller] calls in mosques,” the bill, sponsored by Robert Ilatov, a parliamentarian with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, states, The Telegraph reported.
The bill is also supported by Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister who is also the party’s leader.
The Adhan (The Call to Prayer)
A similar proposal, put forward by Yisrael Beiteinu, was shelved in 2011 despite having the explicit support of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister.
The latest bill is expected to be brought before the ministerial committee for legislation in the coming weeks and would give the interior minister powers to decide whether public address systems could be installed in “houses of prayer” – amounting in practice to a veto over whether a mosque is allowed to broadcast prayer calls.
Ilatov claims that freedom of religious worship was trumped by the right to “peace” and “quiet”.
“Freedom of religion and worship is a universal freedom to which everyone is entitled in every democratic state, and of course in Israel,” he told Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.
“This does not mean that additional rights can be trampled, such as the right to conduct a normal daily routine that includes peaceful and uninterrupted sleep during the night.”
The Adhan is the call to announce that it is time for a particular obligatory Salah (ritual prayer).
The Adhan is raised five times a day.
According to Ilatov, the legislation to silence adhan was justified on the ground of “noise pollution”.
Yet, it was seen as bound to prompt accusations of religious intolerance and prejudice against Muslims.
“Israel is increasingly becoming a project of ethno-religious purity and exclusion. Religious Zionist and ultra-Orthodox parties occupy 30 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, and the coalition government includes members of Jewish Home, a religious Zionist party, and Yisrael Beiteinu, a right-wing nationalist party,” Rula Jebreal, an outspoken Palestinian Israeli commentator, wrote in New York Times of the increasing hardships for Arab minorities within Israel.
“Central to their politics is a program of discriminatory legislation, designed to curtail the civil rights of Palestinian Israeli citizens.”
Israel occupied the holy city of Al-Quds, the West Bank and Golan Heights in the 1967 war and later annexed them in a move not recognized by the international community or UN resolutions.
Since then, Israel has adopted a series of oppressive measures to force the Palestinians out of Al-Quds, including systematic demolition of their homes and building settlements.
There are more than 164 Jewish settlements in the West Bank, eating up more than 40 percent of the occupied West Bank.
The international community considers all settlements on the occupied land illegal.
Sweden officially recognized the state of Palestine on Thursday, the first EU country in Western Europe to do so, reflecting growing international exasperation over the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process.