Quieten calls to prayer in Israel - Netanyahu

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The Muslim call to prayer is sung five times a day, usually from a mosque's tower or minaret

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is backing a proposal to quieten calls to prayer, saying he has received complaints from all quarters about "noise and suffering".

Later on Sunday a government committee will discuss a draft bill that contains the plan.

Israeli media say the measure would stop mosques from using PA systems for their five-times-daily calls to prayer.

Critics say the move would be unnecessarily divisive.

The volume limitations would apply to all religions but will mainly impact on Muslims' call to prayer from mosques. The first of these is at dawn and the last is after sunset.

About 17.5% of people who live in Israel are ethnically Arabic and most of these are Muslims.

Nasreen Hadad Haj-Yahya from the Israel Democracy Institute, a thinktank, wrote in a local newspaper that "the real aim is not to prevent noise but rather to create noise that will hurt all of society and the efforts to establish a sane reality between Jews and Arabs".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting: "I cannot count the times - they are simply too numerous - that citizens have turned to me from all parts of Israeli society, from all religions, with complaints about the noise and suffering caused them by the excessive noise coming to them from the public address systems of houses of prayer.

"Israel is committed to protect anyone who suffers from the excessively loud calls."

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