Muslim countries lead persecution of atheists
Muslim countries lead persecution of atheists Thinkstock

Nazareth Illit Mayor Alex Gedelkin (Yisrael Beytenu) filed a request with the heads of surrounding Arab villages last week, asking them to lower the volume of the Muslim call to prayer from local muezzins during the annual Yom HaZikaron [Memorial Day] ceremonies in May.

Gedelkin also sent a letter to Deputy Interior Minister MK Faina Kirschenbaum (Yisrael Beytenu) asking her to assist his request with local Arab towns, including Kafr Kanna, Mashhad, Reineh and Ein Mahil.

In the letter, Gedelkin explained how muezzins from surrounding towns make the call to prayer ever year during the ceremonies, occurring precisely as Israel enters a state of mourning and locals stand in a moment of silence in memory of the fighters who lost their lives defending the State of Israel. Bereaved families have been hurt by the juxtaposition, he noted. 

Gedelkin also emphasized that the times year-round are predetermined and that the interruption is unintentional. 

On Sunday, Gedelkin updated Arutz Sheva on progress in the initiative to increase respect for the day. 

"There are Arab villages around Nazareth Illit, and just as the ceremonies begin - intentionally or unintentionally - the muezzins start their calls to prayer," he explained. "The loudspeakers at these mosques play the calls to prayer at high volume, and we requested that they lower it out of respect for this day."

"So far I have received no answer on the request from local Arab municipalities," he said. "I guess we will hear a lot of criticism [over the request], but the issue remains a problem every year, it is very disruptive. We hope that in light of the sanctity of [Yom HaZikaron], they lower the volume during ceremonies."

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