The nightly cacophony of the muezzin calls to prayer at the top pitch of loudspeakers has for years blasted across Jerusalem, disturbing the sleep of people living near and far from Palestinian neighborhoods. For years, appeals to local Muslim authorities to tone down the decibels and limit them to their own villages landed on deaf or deafened ears. No Israeli government had for years dared intervene to stop the nightly racket. Finally, on Sunday, the Ministerial Legislative Committee approved the Muezzin Law for limiting the sound level of the muezzins’ call. The bill is still to be enacted by the Knesset. However, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas instantly threatened the measure would “drag the region into a disaster” and vowed to bring it before the UN Security Council.
“We the Palestinians will not give you, the Jews, a moment’s peaceful sleep!” he said, followed by the Palestinian chairman of religious institutions, who threatened to ignite a region-wide religious war.
Incidentally, the mosque loudspeakers are often used to call Palestinians out for anti-Israel riots.
An investigation by the bill’s authors of how this nuisance is handled in other parts of the world found restrictions on the use of loudspeakers by muezzin were imposed in Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France, the UK, Austria, Norway and Belgium, as well as Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. People in Cairo, including devout Muslims, were up in arms over the noise contests between the town’s 4,000 mosques. The Moroccan government is studying complaints of noise pollution, after Muslim scholars determined that the Prophet never mandated loudspeakers for the call to prayer.