Gov’t to Discuss Law to Ban Muezzin Loudspeakers

YERUSHALAYIM -
Jewish Home Knesset Member Motti Yogev. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
MK Motti Yogev. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A law that would limit the use of outdoor speakers for Muslim calls to prayer will be presented to the Ministerial Law Committee Sunday. The law, proposed by Jewish Home MK Motti Yogev, claims that the use of speakers to call Muslims to prayers at mosques is a violation of laws against excessive noise, and violates the quality of life of non-Muslims.

“Hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the Galilee, Negev, Yerushalayim, Tel Aviv-Jaffa and other places in Israel suffer on a regular basis as a result of the muezzin’s call to prayers,” Yogev wrote in an introduction to the bill. “The excess noise is generated by sound systems which disturb the sleep and rest of Israelis numerous times a day, especially in the early mornings and at night.”

His proposal, wrote Yogev, “emphasizes the idea that freedom of religion does not have to harm quality of life, and recommends that the use of sound systems to call people to prayer or announce other messages be banned.” The law would not ban calls to prayer, but only electronic means of disseminating them.

A similar law was presented to the Ministerial Law Committee last March, but no decision was made on whether to back it for legislation because ministers could not come to an agreement on the matter. Yogev has been lobbying both ministers and Knesset members in recent weeks in support of his bill, and the Committee is expected to approve it for legislation this time.

A protest on the matter was held Motzoei Shabbos outside the home of Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri. The protest began at 10:40 p.m., in order to “demonstrate to the minister what we experience every day,” right-wing activist Aryeh King wrote in a social media post. “Aryeh Deri is the only minister who does not back this legislation. I call on all MKs, including those from Shas, to support us.”