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November 30, 2016 11:23 am

Controversial Mosque Loudspeaker Bill Undergoes Preliminary Knesset Reading

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The center mosque in Nablus. Photo Sebi Berens/Flash90.

The center mosque in Nablus. Photo Sebi Berens/Flash90. – A controversial bill in Israel’s Knesset seeking to partially ban places of worship from using loudspeakers for calls to prayer underwent a preliminary parliamentary reading Wednesday.

The bill, which, in large part, looks to tame noise pollution caused by the muezzins’ amplified calls to prayer from some mosques, is opposed by those who say it targets Muslims.

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, an ultra-Orthodox Jew and member of the United Torah Judaism party, had initially opposed the bill over concerns that it could also affect the sirens used in numerous Israeli cities to indicate the onset of Shabbat.

Litzman rescinded his objection Tuesday, following an agreement that an amendment to the bill would prohibit the use of loudspeakers only between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. It was also agreed that the volume of the speaker systems would be lowered to reduce the disturbance to the wider public.

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