The fight against the muezzins - the pre-dawn, loud, mournful calls to prayer by Islamic prayer leaders, or recordings thereof - has reached the Knesset, where MK Aryeh Bibi (Kadima) is promoting a bill to silence them.
Bibi says that the 4 a.m. call to prayer “wreaks havoc in Jerusalem,” awakening people in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. “There is no reason why they can’t do what they do in Turkey, Egypt and elsewhere,” Bibi told Arutz-7’s Hebrew newsmagazine, “and that is to have a ‘silent radio station’ which ‘awakens’ every day at 4 o'clock with the call to prayer. This way, those who want to wake up can do so; why do they have to wake up the whole world?”
The freshman MK, a former Jerusalem police commander, has so far only raised the issue in a Knesset speech – but he also raised the ire of Arab MK Ahmed Tibi, who called Bibi a racist. Bibi replied, “What’s racist about it? They do it in Moslem countries as well. Tibi himself is racist number 1…”
MK Bibi said he would begin working on the exact formulation of the bill this week.
He said that when he was police chief in Jerusalem, “I approached the muezzin operators and asked them to lower the volume, and they often did.”
Problems with muezzins have been registered almost wherever Arab and Jewish populations live in close proximity to each other. In addition to most Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, other neighborhoods that have been known to suffer from the loud early-morning cacophony are Ramot in Jerusalem, Rosh HaAyin and Hevron.
The Marzel Method
Baruch Marzel of Hevron recently told Arutz-7 that he found a unique way of dealing with the problem: “The local mosques received money from Saudi Arabia to buy high-quality loudspeakers, which for some reason they directed straight at my window. So I went out and rented some loudspeakers myself, and played Shlomo Carlebach and Mordechai Ben-David - quality music - right back at them. The Civil Administration came and asked me to lower it, and I said I would – as soon as they turn down their own. And they did!
“I know that in Tel Aviv and elsewhere they also suffer from this noise,” Marzel said, “but there, they are afraid to do something that will offend ‘holy Islam.’ If they want to suffer, let them; we plan to fight.”
Worshipers at the Machpela Cave (Cave of the Patriarchs), as well, often suffer from the loud muezzin located inside the building. High-volume Hassidic music at nearby Gutnick Hall provides some respite for the Jewish visitors and residents, but has not yet achieved the goal of silencing the muezzins there.
Jerusalem City Councilwoman Yael Entebbe has also taken up the struggle against the midnight Islamic racket – and has had her life threatened for her efforts. “I have received many complaints from northern Jerusalem residents on this matter of midnight muezzin calls,” she said. “There is no reason why adults and children should have to be awoken in this manner. As a result of my efforts, I received a Facebook message threatening that an army of Muslims would come and send me to hell. I hope the police will find those responsible.”