UPDATE: An Israeli security guard has been stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist in Maaleh Adumim–a large neighborhood of Jerusalem. No other details.
As you may remember, dear reader, your humble servant spent some time in Albania during this past September. Specifically, I was in Permet, a small city of just over ten thousand residents in southern Albania. Five times a day from 4am in the morning until 10pm at night, the muezzine of Permet’s only mosque called the faithful to prayer over a public address system that blared out his message from the mosque minaret all over the area (in fact, most of the time the muezzine played an automated recording!)
The only problem for the muezzine in Permet was that there were very few faithful–and the few faithful there were did not come to the mosque to pray. In fact, despite living very close to the Permet mosque for three weeks, your humble servant never saw even one person go in and out except for the muezzine. As it turns out, Permet is predominantly Christian.
And despite the fact that those Christians living in Permet are remarkably tolerant about the mosque, they are almost universally annoyed by the constant noise emanating from the mosque. In this annoyance, they are not alone.
Throughout the world, communities and even countries have been coming to grips with the noise pollution caused by loud speaker systems in mosques and establishing ordinances and laws to restrict or forbid them.
In 2005, the Supreme Court of India was asked to decide a case which specifically dealt with the noise pollution coming from Indian mosques. Its decision was simply to prohibit loud speaker systems in India through enforcement of the following restriction:
“The noise level at the boundary of the public place, where loudspeaker or public address system or any other noise source is being used shall not exceed 10 dB(A) above the ambient noise standards for the area or 75 dB(A) whichever is lower.”
In Indonesia, Muslims themselves (responding to complaints from Muslims!) have decided that they will no longer permit the use of loudspeakers to read from the Quoran because their use “could disturb children and the sick, as well as others who require sleep during that time.”
In many other countries of Asia, Europe, South America, and North America–and even Arabic countries–mosques are completely prohibited from using loud speaker systems for any reason.
It is in this context that the new law proposed in Israel by Knesset Member Anastassia Michaeli to prohibit loud speaker systems on mosques should be seen. In the preface to her proposed law, Michaeli notes that “hundreds of thousands of citizens in Israel, in the areas of the Galilee, the Negev, Jerusalem, Haifa and various areas in the centre, suffer daily and regularly from an environmental nuisance – the noise of the muezzin call from the PA systems of mosques.”
Her proposed law would forbid houses of prayer, including mosques, from using PA systems. In further support, Michaeli observes that “residents who live near mosques are used to waking up to the call of the muezzin, and they describe their life as a nightmare, which includes terrified babies, students who suffer from nightmares, and adults who suffer from a lack of sleep.”
A few hundred Israeli-Arabs demonstrated in Israel today against the proposed law–supported of course by the Israeli “left” who are predictably calling the proposed law “racist”, “undemocratic”, and “against the freedom of religion. Once again, it should be noted that the proposed law would prohibit loud speaker systems at all houses of worship–not merely mosques–and in no way restricts muezzines from calling the faithful to prayer, except in the case of using a loud speaker system.
To the charge of being against freedom of religion, Michaeli has answered: “We all support freedom of religion, but alongside the right to freedom exists the obligation for consideration of the surroundings. When families, the elderly, children or working people, are forced to wake up in the early morning hours due to the call of the muezzin – this [should not be permitted].
Michaeli is absolutely correct.
The earliest mosques did not have minarets (and only began to include them to compete with the bell towers of churches–which also called people to prayer). Even today the most conservative Islamists (such as the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia) do not permit minarets to be constructed on mosques on the grounds that they are too ostentatious.
THIS DAY IN ISRAELI HISTORY
On December 17, 1992, 415 terrorist leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad were deported to southern Lebanon.