01:45 GMT +306 December 2019
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    Israeli Lawmakers Initially Approve Law Limiting Mosques' Loudspeakers Use

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    Israeli lawmakers on Wednesday gave an preliminary approval to a law limiting the use of loudspeakers by mosques, local media reported.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — According to the Times of Israel newspaper, the bill dubbed the "Muezzin Law" would lower volume of mosque loudspeakers calling worshipers to prayer and limit the time of day they can be used. The initiative came as a response to a longstanding complaint of residents living next to the mosques.

    The bill opponents claimed it would violate religious freedom for Israel's Muslims, calling the law "racist."

    "This is an offensive against the Arab public, against the presence of Arabs [in Israel], against the Arabic language and against our existence in the region. The sound of the muezzin predated the racists and will exist after the racists," the head of the Arab political alliance Joint List, Ayman Odeh, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

    Two drafts of the bill passed during the Knesset's session. The first draft envisages amending the 1961 Prevention of Public Disturbance law by including places of worship and prohibiting loudspeakers for beeing "unreasonably loud and likely to cause disturbance." The second draft stipulates barring all public places of worship from using loudspeakers from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m the next day.

    Both proposals would be reviewed by the House Committee and sent then for the second and final reading.

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