A bill which would ban mosques from broadcasting an amplified call to prayer at night has received initial approval from Israel’s committee on legislation. The approval means the bill will now go before Israel’s Knesset (parliament) as a government bill.
If passed, the new law would prohibit amplified sounds to be broadcast from speakers from 11:00 pm to 7:00 am. In practice, this would only impact the first call to prayer of the day, which is traditionally broadcast just before dawn.
Does the bill go too far in limiting the right of Muslims to freely exercise their religion?
“This law does not deal with noise nor with quality of life, just with racist incitement against a national minority,” Israeli Arab MP Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint Arab List, said in a statement.
Supporters of the bill argue that the noise of the call to prayer at dawn is extremely disruptive to their lives. “The goal of the law is to prevent people’s sleep from being disturbed,” Motti Yogev, the bill’s sponsor said. “We have no desire to harm the prayer of the Muslims.”
The text of the original bill reads “hundreds of thousands of citizens” across Israel “suffer habitually and daily from loud and unreasonable noise that is caused by the call of muezzin from mosques.”
Complaints about the volume and early hour of the call to prayer are not restricted to Israel. Residents of Hamtrack, Michigan complained in 2016 that the noise of a local mosque broadcasting the call to prayer at 6 am everyday was “overbearing.” Local resident Jeanette Powell told the Hamtrack Review, “Just turn it down a bit.”
Similar sentiments have been expressed in the UK. Nor is it only non-Muslims who are aggravated. Residents in places such as Dubai, where the call to prayer is broadcast at 80 decibels, have complained about mosques being too loud.
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