Rabbi Litzman Raises Objection to Muezzin Bill

YERUSHALAYIM -
Health Minister UTJ MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Health Minister MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, of UTJ. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Health Minister MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman (UTJ) registered an objection to the Muezzin Bill on Tuesday night, on the grounds that banning the use of loudspeakers for the call to prayer by mosques could lead to banning the sirens that are sounded in many Israeli cities to announce the onset of Shabbos.

As a result of Rabbi Litzman’s objection, the bill will likely not be brought to a preliminary vote in the Knesset on Wednesday, as had been planned, while further consultations are held to see to it that the status quo not be harmed by it.

The bill had been cleared for the plenum by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, with the prime minister’s public endorsement.

“Israel is committed to freedom for all religions, but is also responsible for protecting its citizens from noise. That’s how it is in cities in Europe. I support similar legislation and enforcement in Israel,” Netanyahu said.

Earlier on Tuesday, MK Issawi Frej asked Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein to convene a panel of public figures to formulate a solution to the problem. His request was signed by a number of other MKs.

Meanwhile, Jordan weighed in on the controversy, on the side against the bill.

Jordan’s undersecretary for Islamic Affairs and Wakf, which administers the Al-Aksa Mosque, said that the state of Israel had no authority to restrict the muezzins, and that the Muslim call to prayer, played over the loudspeakers at the site five times a day, would be played forever.