AMP condemns Israeli bill banning the call to prayer
(WASHINGTON DC 03/10/2017) – The Israeli Knesset on Wednesday passed the first reading of a bill that would ban the use of loudspeakers to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. This draft, referred to as the “softer version,” was one of two bills lawmakers considered. The other, introduced by the extremist, right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party, would have banned the adhan outright.
The American Muslims for Palestine condemns both measures as an assault on religious freedom in general and on Palestinian Muslims in particular. While the draft bill targets all ‘houses of prayer,’ it makes allowances for the siren that announces the Jewish observance of the Sabbath on Friday evenings.
Israeli Knesset member MK Moti Yogev said he introduced his bill to protect people – including Muslims – from the “noise” of the adhan, a position AMP finds reprehensible.
“The Muslim call to prayer is a tradition that’s no different from Christian churches ringing bells to call worshipers to prayer or mass, or the siren used to pronounce the start of the Sabbath in the Jewish faith,” said Dr. Osama Abuirshaid, AMP national policy director. “If Israel is truly the only so-called democracy in the Middle East, this bill once again proves otherwise.”
The bill will now go to committee and eventually to the full Knesset for a vote. A timeline has not been set.
AMP calls on the U.S. State Department to intervene to ensure Israel does not interfere with the free practice of religion. If this bill eventually becomes law, AMP is asking for the State Department to designate it as a human rights violation and include it in its annual international religious freedom report.