Netanyahu Backs Racist Bill to Silence Mosque Calls to Prayer

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, November 13, that he supports a bill to bar mosques from using loudspeaker systems for the Muslim call to prayer, and pointed “to similar restrictions in European and even some Muslim countries” as justification for the move. Joint List and Hadash lawmakers attacked the proposal as a hate-fueled assault on Muslim freedom of religion.

Mosque in the Old City of Acre

Mosque in the Old City of Acre (Photo: Al Ittihad)

Legislative efforts to stymie the calls have always failed to garner large-scale support, though, and it’s unclear whether this newest bid will find more backing. The bill, penned by far-right Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev, was set to be voted on by the committee in March but was removed from agenda hours before the scheduled meeting.

Joint List leader MK Aymen Odeh (Hadash) slammed the legislation, calling it “another bill, in a series of populist bills, whose objective is to create an atmosphere of hate and incitement against the Arab population. There are noise laws and regulations that also apply to mosques, so it’s clear that the sole purpose of the bill is to mark the mosques as the source of a problem. It is a clear attack on Muslim freedom of religion and the continuation of a wave of persecution that the prime minister is leading.”

Some 20 percent of Israel’s population are Arab-Palestinians, most of them Muslim, making the calls to prayer a familiar sound in many parts of the country. In 2014, the racist Yisrael Beytenu party revived a proposal that would ban electronic amplification of the calls to prayer.