(Ilana Messika/TPS) President Reuven Rivlin hosted on Tuesday a group of Jewish and Muslim leaders for discussions about the so-called “muezzin bill,” scheduled for a preliminary vote in the Knesset plenum today (Wednesday).
The bill, tabled by MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home), proposes to ban loudspeakers for early-morning calls to prayer. It was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation last Monday but has been met with severe criticism from Arab MKs, Palestinians and human-rights organizations who say the bill is “racist.” Ultra-Orthodox politicians also opposed the bill because they were afraid it could be applied to sirens announcing the Sabbath, but they have since rescinded their opposition.
“There was a strong positive consensus among the faith leaders around a shared willingness to find an agreed understanding that would not require legislative action, especially one that could be interpreted as infringing upon freedom of religion,” stated Jason Pearlman, foreign media adviser to President Rivlin, to Tazpit Press Service (TPS).
“Jerusalem has always brought together the various voices, Jewish prayers with the muezzin’s call to prayer along with the Church bells,” Rivlin said. “I am the son of a person who translated the Quran and observed the Jewish commandments, and I recognize the need to tread a fine line […] It would be a shame for a law to be born that touches on the issue of freedom of faith of a specific group among us. ”