On Nov. 13, the Knesset’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation will debate a proposed bill banning muezzins from using public address (PA) systems, that is, loudspeakers, to call the faithful to prayers. The legislation was proposed by Knesset member Moti Yogev of HaBayit HaYehudi and co-sponsored by Merav Ben-Ari of Kulanu and Miki Zohar and Nurit Koren, both from Likud. […]

When the bill was initially tabled in 2011, the Knesset Research and Information Center prepared an in-depth report on the issue, including comparisons with mosques in various parts of the Arab world and in Western states. Its authors explained that the use of loudspeakers had begun at the start of modern times as a result of trends in urbanization, industrialization and technological advances. In the past, villages were small enough that the muezzin’s voice could be heard unaided. When villages became towns, muezzins were forced to revert to PA systems to call worshippers to prayer.

The Israel Democracy Institute also compiled a position paper on the issue, in which Mordechai Kremnitzer, Amir Fuchs and Eli Bahar warned that although the legislation refers to a “house of prayer,” in general, it clearly targets only Muslims. They warned that in addition to violating freedom of religion, the law could prompt bitterness and disputes within Israel’s Muslim community.