Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu on Sunday voiced support for a law that would ban mosques from using loudspeaker systems to call people to prayer.
The so-called Muezzin Law, propsed by MK Anastassia Michaeli (Yisrael Beiteinu), applies to all houses of worship but the practice is prevalent only in mosques.
“There’s no need to be more liberal than Europe,” Netanyahu said in reference to the law during a meeting of his Likud ministers.
After intense pressure from Likud ministers Limor Livnat, Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan, who harshly criticized the bill, Netanyahu announced that he was postponing the scheduled debate in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.
Michaeli has said hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens routinely suffer from the noise caused by the muezzin’s calls to prayer.
“The bill comes from a worldview whereby freedom of religion should not be a factor in undermining quality of life,” she said.
Netanyahu made similar comments to the Likud ministers.
“I have received numerous requests from people who are bothered by the noise from the mosques,” he said. “The same problem exists in all European countries, and they know how to deal with it. It’s legitimate in Belgium; it’s legitimate in France. Why isn’t it legitimate here? We don’t need to be more liberal than Europe.”
Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said there was no need for such a law and that it would only escalate tensions.
“None of the ministers came to Netanyahu’s defense or supported his position,” said one minister who participated in the meeting.
Netanyahu realized he would not be able to muster a majority in support of the law among his Likud ministers, and announced that the bill would be removed from the agenda of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, which convened a few hours after the Likud meeting.
Netanyahu added, however, the matter would be debated over the coming days and that the bill would be brought before the ministerial committee next week.