Thousands of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel took to the streets on Saturday, March 11, to protest a bill being advanced in the Knesset, which seeks to impose limits on the Muslim call to prayer throughout Israel and in occupied East Jerusalem. According to Al-Ittihad, the daily newspaper o the Communist Party of Israel, some 3,000 men and women marched through the town of Kabul, holding Palestinian flags and signs saying: “The muezzin law won’t pass” or “Don’t silence the muezzin,” chanting against the legislation and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Other demonstrations were held in parallel on Saturday in Nazareth, Umm el-Fahem and Taybe.
The so-called “Muezzin Bill” – its unofficial name making reference to those responsible for calling Muslims to prayer from every mosque – passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset on Wednesday, March 8, as several Hadash and Joint List members of the Knesset were removed from the plenum for denouncing the proposed legislation as being racist and a violation of religious freedom. Wednesday’s reading of the bill was the first of three rounds of votes that the bill must pass before it can become law. During the demonstration in Kabul, Hadash MK Yousef Jabareen, a member of the Joint List said that his “constituents would not accept the legislation lightly. The demonstration today is just the first in a series of mass protests and other measures against this racist and draconian law.”
Palestinian Authority spokesperson Yousif al-Mahmoud said that the bill was a violation of freedom to worship in Jerusalem, highlighting that the holy city in particular and Palestine in general had a history of respect and harmony between all residents regardless of their religious beliefs. “It is unbelievable that the long religious and cultural history of the city is being destroyed with the stroke of a pen,” al-Mahmoud added.