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Israel's bill banning the Muslim call to prayer passes first reading

The Knesset yesterday approved the first reading of the bill which bans the Muslim call for prayer being transmitted through loudspeakers, the Anadolu Agency reported.

The reading was approved by a vote of 55 in favour and 45 against, in a session during which Arab lawmakers shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) inside the Knesset.

If this bill becomes law, Israeli authorities would prevent Muslims in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem from using loudspeakers for the athan between 23:00 and 07:00. It would also impose fines ranging between $1,300 and $2,600 on those who violate the new legislation.

Read: Arab MKs call the bill banning Muslim call to prayer a 'declaration of war'

Arab lawmaker Ahmad Al-Tibi condemned the vote, saying: "The sound of 'Allahu Akbar' will continue to be heard in spite of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and the [Israeli] extreme right wing."

In a symbolic move, Ayman Odeh, head of the Knesset's Joint List, tore up the draft legislation before being asked to leave the Knesset.

Racist law

"This is a racist law that comes as part of the systematic persecution of [Israel's] Arab citizens and the Arabic language," Odeh declared.

He went on to assert that Arab-Israeli citizens would not comply with the law even if it was approved by the Knesset in its second and third readings.

"We will not respect this law," the lawmaker said. "The athan is part of this land and it existed before the creation of Israel and will remain after it."

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