(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Israel's controversial mosque loudspeaker bill, which seeks to partially ban public places of worship from using loudspeakers for calls to prayer, underwent its preliminary parliamentary reading Wednesday in the Knesset.
Israeli Health Minister Yakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) had initially opposed the bill over concerns that, in addition to Muslim calls to prayer, the measure could also affect the sirens used in some cities to indicate the onset of Shabbat.
Litzman rescinded his objection Tuesday, following an agreement that an amendment to the bill would prohibit the use of loudspeakers only between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. It was also agreed that the volume of the speaker systems would be lowered to reduce the disturbance to the wider public.
The Forum of Former Ministers, a group of former Israeli government ministers working as analysts for the Israel Democracy Institute think tank, came out against the mosque loudspeaker bill Wednesday. The former ministers said in a statement that “there is already a law in place prohibiting inappropriate levels of noise. As such, if an institution violates that law, and the situation cannot be rectified through dialogue, it could be able to be dealt with through this existing legislation. Therefore, passing the muezzin bill would needlessly escalate tensions between Israel’s Arab citizens and the government.”