PMW expertise sheds light on proposed Israeli “Muezzin Law”
Headline: Free expression or intimidation? Israeli bill sparks debate on mosques’ calls to prayer
Itamar Marcus—founder of Palestinian Media Watch, a group that monitors public incitement against Jews—said any law limiting or banning a mosque’s loud calls “is not an imposition on someone’s freedom of religion.” He said the current bill is meant to directly counter the intent of the loudspeakers “to create a presence and dominance of the mosque in the community.”
The loud call five times a day “serves a very strong message to the people that the mosque is calling residents to prayer, whether they want it or not,” Marcus told JNS.org. Mosques, he said, “can do whatever they want as long as they are not disturbing other people. Nobody should impose on anybody else what prayers they should hear.”
Besides the five-times-daily prayer calls, many mosques increase the calls’ volume during the Friday mid-morning prayer and then broadcast the imam’s lengthy sermon via the loudspeaker. Such sermons have been censured for anti-Semitic and anti-American rhetoric.
“What we see from the sermons that are broadcast on Palestinian television is that there are often calls to incitement,” said Marcus, noting that a “sermon broadcast just a few months ago called on Allah to count the Jews to the last one, and kill them to the last one.” (Click to view)
“[Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas’s adviser on religion recently spoke about Jews throughout history as being connected to Satan,” said Marcus. “There is a lot of that hatred even on television. So the question is, what might be worse in the sermons that are not being broadcast on television?”
Berko [former colonel in the Israel Police and former adviser on Arab affairs for the Jerusalem Police Department] agreed that mosque loudspeakers are used to incite.
On Nov. 13, 2016, a bill to ban religious institutions from broadcasting over loudspeakers was approved for a preliminary reading in the Israeli Parliament. The bill is intended to prevent noise pollution. This bill is referred to by many as the "Muezzin Law," although it does not refer to any specific religion.
Other countries have already approved or attempted legislation for regulating the use of loudspeakers in mosques in order to limit noise pollution. These include India, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Bahrain, the United Emirates, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France, the UK, Austria, Norway, and Belgium, and the US. The PA has also passed legislation regarding the use of loudspeakers in mosques in order to to reduce noise pollution.
Sheikh Khaled Al-Mughrabi - teaches Islam at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem twice a week. On Aug. 2, 2015, Al-Mughrabi was arrested and questioned after PMW provided Israeli police with translated recordings of his antisemitic teachings. He was arrested again on Nov. 4, 2015 on charges of incitement to hatred.