Ne­tanyahu backs Bill to stop mosque ‘noise’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

IS­RAELI Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu says he backs a bill lim­it­ing the vol­ume of calls to prayer from mosques, a pro­posal gov­ern­ment watch­dogs call a threat to re­li­gious free­dom.

Is­raeli me­dia re­ported on Sun­day the bill would stop the use of public ad­dress sys­tems for calls to prayer.

“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 and suf­fer­ing caused them by the ex­ces­sive noise com­ing to them from the public ad­dress sys­tems of houses of prayer,” Ne­tanyahu said at the start of a cabi­net meet­ing.

While the draft bill ap­plies to all houses of wor­ship, it is seen as specif­i­cally tar­get­ing mosques.

Is­rael’s pop­u­la­tion is roughly 17.5 per­cent Arab, most of them Mus­lim, and they ac­cuse the Jewish ma­jor­ity of badly dis­crim­i­nat­ing against them.

East Jerusalem is also mainly Pales­tinian and tra­di­tional calls to prayer by muezzins through public ad­dress sys­tems can be heard in the city.

The Is­rael Democ­racy In­sti­tute, a non-par­ti­san think-tank, has spo­ken out against the pro­posal.

On Sun­day, one of the group’s of­fi­cials ac­cused Is­rael’s right-wing politi­cians of dan­ger­ously us­ing the is­sue to gain po­lit­i­cal points un­der the guise of im­prov­ing qual­ity of life.

Nas­reen Hadad Haj-Yahya wrote in Is­raeli news­pa­per Maariv “the real aim” of the bill “is not to pre­vent noise, but rather to cre­ate noise that will hurt all of so­ci­ety and the ef­forts to es­tab­lish a sane re­al­ity be­tween Jews and Arabs”. — AFP

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