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Likud Ministers: Noisy Mosques? What about Synagogues?

Ministers from ruling party toe leftist line, oppose law for enforcing noise pollution limits on mosques.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 12/12/2011, 10:19 AM

Several Likud ministers oppose a bill proposed by MK Anastasia Michaeli (Israel is Our Home) for limiting the noise from mosque minarets. As a result, the bill did not come up for a vote in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation Sunday, and its fate is unclear.

Lack of support in the ministerial committee usually spells doom for Knesset bills.

Ministers Dan Meridor, Michael Eitan, Limor Livnat and Benny Begin are reportedly opposed to the law, which leftists call "the law for muzzling Muezzins," and ministers Gideon Saar and Moshe Cachlon are reportedly also expected to vote against it.

Unnamed sources in Likud were even quoted as saying, "What about the noise that emanates from churches and synagogues? Shouldn't that be taken care of as well?"

Throughout Israel, mosques employ loudspeakers to broadcast the muezzin's calls to prayer, usually in blatant violation of noise pollution laws. The most problematic call to prayer, in this respect, is the pre-dawn call, that often begins at 3:45 a.m. and can continue until 5:00.

As political correctness and a climate of fear spread throughout Israel in the decades since the Oslo Accords, so, it seems, has Muslim brazenness. More and more muezzins choose to blast their calls to prayer through loudspeakers and their volume appears to have gone up. Often the loudspeakers seem to be purposely aimed at Jewish neighborhoods, in order to disturb the residents' sleep. MK Michaeli told Arutz Sheva that she has received thousands of letters from Israelis who suffer from muezzin noise. She said that many citizens have simply given in to despair after fruitlessly asking authorities to enforce noise pollution laws to allow them to sleep at night.

MK Michaeli noted that legal noise pollution limits have been in place for decades, but police are loath to enforce them against mosques. Her law would simply ban the use of loudspeakers on minarets. Michaeli, who has a master's degree in electronic engineering, said that in the hi-tech age, there are many alternative solutions for calling Muslim faithful to prayer, including radio transmissions, use of cell phones and Wi-Fi.

MK Michaeli noted that even Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia enforce limits on the use of loudspeakers by muezzins. In Europe, she said, noisy calls to prayer are not allowed anywhere except for Holland and Austria, and the latter only allows the calls in the morning hours. In Switzerland, she noted, minarets are banned completely.