Health Minister and United Torah Judaism Chairman Yakov Litzman on Tuesday appealed the decision of the Government Legislative Committee Sunday approving a bill prohibiting the use of Mosque PA systems. The appeal will require a new committee debate.
Comparing the Mosques’ loudspeaker announcements, which reverberate through entire neighborhoods in Israeli mixed cities five times a day every day, starting as early as 4 AM, to the pre-Shabbat loudspeaker warnings in many Israeli cities, which take place, by definition, once a week (more if there’s a holiday), Litzman suggested the “Muezzin law” might damage the status quo between the state and the religious Jewish community.
Litzman was supported by Shas Chairman and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, and also by MK Issawi Freij (Meretz), who wrote Litzman that “the right to worship is a fundamental right for everyone. Noise problems should not be resolved through legislation.” Joint Arab List Chairman MK Ayman Odeh congratulated Minister Litzman on his move, saying it was “a significant step toward cooperation between the weakened segments of society.” Meaning, presumably, that both the Arabs and the Haredim face government policies intended to keep them down.
MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) stated in the bill itself that he has no intention “to harm religious freedom, rather it is intended to prevent the sleep interruption suffered by the majority of citizens due to muezzin calls.”
Interestingly, several Muslim and European countries have enacted laws compelling their mosques to “muffle” their loudspeakers, including Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. Cities that have banned or restricted the use of loudspeakers by mosques include Cairo, Egypt, Mumbai, India, Lagos, Nigeria, and several cities in Michigan. Restrictions of calls of prayers by muezzins exist in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France, the UK, Austria, Norway, and Belgium.