A highly contentious Bill which threatens to inflame Arab religious and ethnic sensitivities in Israel by clamping down on mosques using loudspeakers for the call to prayer has split the Cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.I knew that the Muslims claim to have been in the forefront of science, but I had no idea they had invented loudspeakers - even before Mohammed was born!
Mr Netanyahu expressed sympathy this week for the principle behind the Bill, promoted by Anastasia Michaeli, a Knesset member in the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party led by the Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.
Ms Michaeli's so-called muezzin Bill would actually ban the use of such loudspeakers in any place of worship, but is clearly directed at mosques used by Israel's mainly Muslim million-plus Arab minority. She has said the Bill comes from "a world view whereby freedom of religion should not be a factor in undermining quality of life".
Mr Netanyahu made it clear that he wanted the issue addressed, saying in reference to curbs in Belgium and France, where officials have imposed bans on street prayer, that "there is no need to be more liberal than Europe".
The Bill has outraged Arab religious authorities, with the former mufti of Jerusalem, Ekrima Sabri, asking yesterday: "How could Israel change something which Muslims have been practising for the last 15 centuries in Jerusalem and Palestine and everywhere?"