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Israel’s anti-athan bill allows police to storm mosques

Mosque in Jaffa, Israel, which came under attack by racists
Mosque in Jaffa, Israel, which came under attack by racists [File photo]

Israeli MKs and minister have been working to introduce a new copy of what is known as the “Muezzin Bill” to give power to police to break into mosques to silence the Muslim call to prayer, Quds Press reported yesterday.

According to Israeli news website 0404, the new copy of the bill, which had preliminary Knesset approval in March 2017, is planned to be proposed to parliament soon.

The website said that a committee consisting of Interior Minister Gilad Erdan, Environment Minister Zeev Elkin and other MKs, including Moti Yogev who initiated the bill, have already laid down the terms of the new copy.

According to the Israeli website, the new amendments give addition power to Israel Police that enables officers to break into mosques in Israel and Jerusalem, confiscate loudspeakers and impose fines up to 10,000 shekels ($2,860) on those said to be violating the law.

The Israeli government began measures to approve the bill in November 2016 and it passed a first reading the Knesset in March 2017.

Palestinians living in Israel, both Muslims and Christians, criticised the move as another step towards Judaising Jerusalem, eradicating the Arabic history of Palestine and supressing religious freedoms.

Read: Israel proposes bill to revoke residency status of Palestinians in East Jerusalem

“It is an aggression on the Islamic rituals,” Sheikh Sulieman Satel, Imam of Al-Nuzha Mosque in Yaffa, said. “The real aim of this racist bill is not an attempt to reduce noise, but to silence the Muslim call to prayer… because those behind it hate Islam.”

Athan is not more than two or three minutes and this proves that the real aim of this bill is that they do not want to hear or see any sign related to the Islamic or Arabic existence in this country

he stressed.

Palestinians “will not remain silent while their mosques are desecrated and their legal, religious and humanitarian right to practice their religious rituals freely is violated,” he continued.

Sheikh Satel said that this bill “is part of the continuous planning to erase the identity of the Palestinians in Israel in addition to the numerous laws, including those giving power to Israeli authorities to confiscate the property of the Palestinian endowments.”

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