Lawmaker Withdraws His Bill Banning Mosques From Broadcasting Call to Prayer

After bill fails to garner support of coalition partners, Habayit Hayehudi MK Moti Yogev takes bill off committee's agenda until further changes put in.

Palestinian ride their horses near a mosque in the Arab village of Abu Ghosh, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, March 23, 2014.

MK Moti Yogev withdrew his bill to prohibit the use of mosques' public address systems to call Muslims to prayer from the Ministerial Committee or Legislation on Sunday when he didn’t manage to obtain the agreement from coalition partners necessary to enable its passing.

The Habayit Hayehudi lawmaker is now working to add two changes to the bill that may lead to support of it – prohibiting the use of the PA systems according to rest hours defined by law, as well as setting a standard decibel threshold that the PA systems could not transcend.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation was due to decide Sunday whether to support the bill. Its initiators said that in addition to addressing the issue of unacceptable noise levels from the call to prayer, it would also prevent messages of a religious or ultranationalist nature and incitement being conveyed from loudspeakers installed in mosques.

Although the law would apply to houses of prayer for all religions, the bill notes specifically that its main purpose is to deal with PA systems in mosques. The bill was initiated Yogev and supported by MK Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu), MK Miki Zohar and Nurit Koren, both of the Likud.

Last week, the Israel Democracy Institute and other groups called on ministers to reject the bill. The Israel Democracy Institute sent the panel members a legal opinion outlining why the lawmakers should not approve the bill.

“If this law is advanced, it could arouse and encourage rifts, and be seen as intending to hurt the Muslim community,” the experts wrote. “A government committed to egalitarian norms of government and protection of religious freedom should not allow this bill to become law in Israel,” they added.