Florentin Tel Aviv
The Al-Mahmoudiya mosque in Jaffa. The writer can hear the muezzin’s call to prayer from his apartment. (photo credit:ANNA LOSHKIN)


The Palestinian leadership has summarily condemned a proposed bill to ban religious institutions from using outdoor loudspeakers.

Nabil Abu Rudeinah, the spokesman of the Palestinian Authority Presidency, said the bill “will lead to catastrophes” upon his arrival in the Turkmenistan, where a PA delegation is participating in an official visit.

“These measures are completely unacceptable and the leadership will go to the Security Council and all international institutions to stop these escalatory Israeli measures,” said Abu Rudeinah, in reference to the loudspeakers bill in addition to another bill, seeking legalize illegal outposts in the West Bank.

The Knesset Ministerial Committee for Legislation authorized the loudspeakers bill on Sunday. The bill must pass four readings in the Knesset and almost certainly receive the approval of the High Court before it can become law.

PA Awqaf (religious endowments) Minister Yousif Idais said the bill is an attempt to make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict religious.

“This [bill] expresses racism that goes beyond politics and delves into religion,” Idais remarked, adding that it “is a warning to the entire region of a religious war.”

Idais added that Muslim Palestinians intend to stand steadfastly against the bill. “The approval of this bill will not change the religious reality, but rather will make us more committed to our holy sites and religious endowments that express our national and political identity,” the PA minister stated.

Idais also called on the international community, Arab and Islamic worlds, and international religious institutions to protect holy sites in Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who supports the bill, said “Israel is committed to freedom for all religions, but is also responsible for protecting citizens from noise.”

Rafat Alyan, a Fatah spokesman in Jerusalem, said that the bill reflects the closer ties between Israel and the Arab world.

“The occupation is taking advantage of the Arab and Islamic quiet and the weakness of the national and Islamic factions…to change the status quo in Jerusalem including barring the call to prayer,” Alyan remarked.

Israel and a handful of Sunni-majority, Arab states have developed closer ties over the past several years.

The call to prayer, which usually lasts a few minutes, is sounded five times a day, first at dawn and last in the evening.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post