Israel revives efforts to silence Muslim call to prayer
A controversial Israeli bill to silence the Muslim call to prayer is to go forward after it was amended so as not to affect the Jewish Shabbat siren.
Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, had blocked the draft law in its original form for fear it would also force the toning down of the sirens that announce the start of the Jewish day of rest at sundown each Friday.
But he lifted his objections after it was amended to apply only between 11pm and 7am, limiting its scope to the first of the five daily Muslim calls to prayer just before dawn - known in Arabic as al-Fajr.
Palestinian activist Ghassan Munair told The New Arab that the law was unwarranted and existing noise nuisance regulations could be used to find a solution.
"There is no need for a new law because there already is a law in place that bans excessive noise. Officials could apply this law by working with mosques and coming to an understanding," Munair said.
The call to prayer is broadcast from mosques five times a day [Getty]
"I think this is earlier to implement because you can't ban the call to prayer as it is a fundamental Islamic ritual, however, it is possible for it to be at a volume that is suitable for all."
Others have been more critical, the former grand mufti of Jerusalem, Ekrima Sabri, called the bill "one of the most racist and discriminatory laws" ever proposed.
Palestinians within Israel and the Gaza Strip have protested against the bill, which will "probably" now be put to a preliminary vote in parliament next week, according to spokesman for speaker Yuli Edelstein.
A video circulating on Twitter has shown residents chanting from their rooftops, echoing the mosque's call.
Also in a show of unity, church bells have rung along with the call to prayer, as Muslims and Christians rally against Israel's plans.
In protest against the bill, Arab-Israeli lawmaker Taleb Abu Arar chanted the Muslim call to prayer in parliament last week, provoking furious protests from some Jewish members.
The law would apply to mosques in annexed Arab east Jerusalem as well as Israel, although the supersensitive al-Aqsa mosque compound - Islam's third holiest site - will be exempted.