Racist Israeli Bill Aims to Muffle Islamic Calls to Prayer
by Stephen Lendman
Calls to prayer five times daily is traditional in Muslim societies and communities.
On March 8, racist Knesset members passed a first reading (55 for to 48 against) of a measure to muffle amplified calls to prayer in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem - a so-called Muezzin Bill, referring to the individual chanting the call.
During proceedings, the plenum became chaotic. Palestinian MK Zuheir Bahloul called the bill “a declaration of war…between sanity and racism.”
Joint (Arab) List’s Ayman Odeh was forced out of the Knesset after ripping the bill to shreds. Joint List’s Ahmad Tibi was removed for speaking out strongly against the measure during debate.
A shouting match at times disrupted things. Meretz Party leader Zehava Galong called the bill a “fiasco,” saying “(i)nstead of honoring their customs and traditions, this is what we do?
MK Moti Yogev, the measure’s author said its purpose is “to benefit students and drivers, as well as the sleep cycles of citizens.”
Joint List’s Jamal Zahalk said “(t)his is a racist law whose only purpose is to hurt our community. (W)hat disturbs the supporters of this legislation is not the noise, but rather that the sound of the muezzin reminds them of the true identity of this land.”
If bothered by traditional calls to prayer, why did Israeli lawmakers wait almost 70 years to address the issue legislatively?
It’s not about disrupting sleep. It’s part of longstanding persecution of Israeli Arab citizens and occupied Palestinians.
Wednesday’s reading was the first of three rounds required to pass legislation.
PA spokesman Yousif al-Mahmoud called the bill a violation of religious freedom in Jerusalem, saying “(i)t is unbelievable that the long religious and cultural history of the city is being destroyed with the stroke of a pen.”
Wednesday’s session passed two versions of the law. The first amended the 1961 Prevention of Public Disturbance law to include places of worship.
It calls public speaker systems used for calls to prayer “unreasonably loud and likely to cause disturbance,” prohibiting their use.
The second version bans speaker systems use from 11PM - 7AM. Violators face fines of up to NIS 10,000 (about $2,700).
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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