Bid to qui­eten Mus­lim call to prayer am­pli­fies Is­rael ten­sions

The Myanmar Times - - World -

A BILL backed by Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu to ban mosques around Is­rael and an­nexed east Jerusalem from us­ing loud­speak­ers to am­plify late-night and early-morn­ing calls to prayer has been ap­proved by a min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee ahead of a par­lia­men­tary de­bate and vot­ing.

It has been tem­po­rar­ily blocked but the govern­ment is still con­fi­dent of push­ing it through.

The dis­pute around high-deci­bel minarets is not unique to Is­rael, which ar­gues that other states, in­clud­ing in Europe and North Africa, have sim­i­lar re­stric­tions to those it is look­ing to im­ple­ment.

But it has touched a raw nerve in Is­rael, where many in its mi­nor­ity Arab pop­u­la­tion – around 17.5 per­cent of the whole, and over­whelm­ingly Mus­lim – be­lieve Mr Ne­tanyahu’s right-wing govern­ment is sys­tem­at­i­cally per­se­cut­ing them.

They also worry that their con­nec­tion to Al-Aqsa, the third holi­est site in Is­lam, is un­der threat.

Large num­bers of Is­raeli Jews view the azans (prayer call) as noise pol­lu­tion, with the bill’s spon­sor Motti Yo­gev, of the far-right Jewish Home party, ar­gu­ing they dis­turb the peace of hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple.

He has also claimed that in some cases they are used by re­li­gious lead­ers to in­cite against Is­rael.

In its cur­rent draft, the law would pre­vent the sum­mons to wor­ship­pers from be­ing re­layed on loud­speak­ers.

Pales­tini­ans and Arab Is­raelis have or­gan­ised protests against the ban, with an Arab Is­raeli MP per­form­ing the azan in Is­rael’s par­lia­ment to the fury of some of his Jewish col­leagues.

Govern­ment watch­dogs call the bill a threat to re­li­gious free­dom and the Arab League has termed it “a very dan­ger­ous provo­ca­tion”.

Arab Is­raelis, who largely iden­tify as Pales­tini­ans, are the de­scen­dants of Pales­tini­ans who re­mained on their land af­ter the cre­ation of the state of Is­rael in 1948. –

Photo: AFP

An Is­raeli flag flies on a build­ing with a minaret of a mosque and the Dome of the Rock (right) in the back­ground in Jerusalem’s Old City.

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