A number of Israeli settlers from the illegal settlement of Pisgat Zeev protested in front of the house of Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barakat this morning complaining of “noise pollution” caused by the Muslim call to prayer.
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According to Israeli radio station Reshet Bet, Barkat responded to the settlers’ complaints by saying that the Jerusalem municipality would collaborate with Israeli police to enforce noise regulations on the call to prayer.
The call to prayer – also known as the athan – is broadcast five times a day from mosques and Islamic centres.
A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality told Ma’an that Barkat, “in collaboration with the Jerusalem District police chief and local Muslim leadership, has developed a plan to protect the religious freedom of Muslim muezzin to announce the call to prayer, while ensuring reasonable quiet in Jerusalem’s residential areas.”
The spokesperson went on to add that the municipality guidelines would include “increased instructions for muezzin operators regarding technical guidelines for optimal playback and sound amplification, increased mapping of city mosques, and continuous dialogue with local Muslim leadership.”
Adnan Al-Husseini, the Palestinian Authority appointed governor of Jerusalem, told Ma’an that the call to prayer was one of the main Muslim religious rituals and an integral part of Jerusalem’s identity. He said Israeli demands to reduce the sound of the athan were threats which have been issued several times before in Jerusalem.
Al-Husseini said the athan is currently called at an agreed upon level, adding that Israeli settlers were not annoyed by the noise, but by the call to prayer as a reminder of the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem.
Former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, said the call to prayer was not just a Muslim religious ritual, but an act of worship, and that attempting to ban it would represent a violation of freedom of worship.
Sabri added that the real noise pollution was the sound of Israeli military jets hovering over the Jerusalem sky, the sound of Israeli military tanks raiding Palestinian cities and villages, and the noise of bombs fired at Palestinian citizens.