The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved on Sunday a bill prohibiting the use of loudspeakers at mosques during Muslim prayer services.The law, while obviously aimed at mosques, is written to ban loudspeakers from all religious institutions.
Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced support for the legislation. "Israel is committed to freedom of religion, but it must also protect citizens from the noise. This is how it is in European cities and I support similar enforcement and legislation in Israel," the prime minster said.
The bill would have to pass several readings in the Knesset to become law.
Palestinians are livid about the possibility that the law would be enforced in parts of the territories, and they are threatening Israel should the law pass.
The PA threatened to go to the Security Council.
The head of Islamic Jihad said "the decision confirms the extent of arrogance of the occupation , which was based on criminality, murder and destruction and to provoke the feelings of Muslims. ...this decision excceds all red lines.
Hamas issued a statement saying it is "an outrageous provocation to the feelings of Muslims all over the world, and unacceptable interference in the worship and religious rites." It said it violates international laws and conventions.
The Resistance Committees said Israel is instigating a religious war aimed at Judaizing Jerusalem and obliterating Islamic identity.
The PA Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs said that this law threatens the entire region with a religious war, through the violations of freedom of beliefs.
Perhaps the most honest evaluation came from an Al Aqsa imam who said that anyone who doesn't like the call to prayer blaring at 5 AM should simply move somewhere else. Which is indeed part of the reason it is done to begin with, far beyond the requirements or customs of Islam - it is not a simple call to prayer but an assertion of sovereignty.
Haaretz notes that even Egypt has tried to ban the calls to prayer, and notes that many Islamic scholars say there is no religious dimension to loudspeakers:
The hysterical reactions from the Palestinian leadership proves once again that this has nothing to do with religion but with Islamic attempts at hegemony in the region.
Arguments over mosques’ use of loudspeakers to broadcast the voice of the muezzin calling Muslims to prayer have arisen over the past several years in several countries, first and foremost in Egypt, which is not only the largest Arab state but is considered a role model and source of guidance since Cairo is home to Al-Azhar, the most prominent Sunni institution in the Arab and Muslim world.
A number of years ago the issue made headlines when Egypt’s then-Religious Endowments Minister, Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk, said loudspeakers were an invention that has nothing to do with Islamic law, and that they even constituted an undermining of Islam, which spread and expanded over hundreds of years without loudspeakers or other technology. Senior religious leaders, however, said that conveying the call of the muezzin is an Islamic principle, making the use of loudspeakers permitted and even vital to broadcast the call and convey it to all believers.
Nevertheless, there are senior figures in the Islamic world who agree that external loudspeakers should only be used to call people to prayer, and not to broadcast the prayers themselves, particularly the Friday prayers that include the traditional sermon. There are those who argue that amplification systems during prayer should only be used within the mosques themselves.