Turkey, Middle East

Turkey's top cleric criticizes Israel’s anti-Adhan bill

Mehmet Gormez says proposal amounts to denial of Muslims' role in Jerusalem

Turkey's top cleric criticizes Israel’s anti-Adhan bill

By Zafer Fatih Beyaz

DOHA, Qatar

An Israeli bill calling for a ban on mosques using loudspeakers for the call to prayer was condemned as a “rejection of Islam” by Turkey’s leading religious figure Wednesday.

Mehmet Gormez, the head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, said the proposal to impose noise limits on places of worship “means the rejection of Islam and Muslims’ presence in Jerusalem.”

Speaking during a visit to Qatar, he told reporters: “Forbidding the Adhan means the rejection of Muslims and Islam in Jerusalem throughout history. It is impossible to accept this.”

The bill, which is currently awaiting approval before it is presented to the Knesset, or Israeli parliament, has the support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

It applies to all religions across Israel but many fear it is aimed at mosques that broadcast the Adhan, or call to prayer, five times a day. The planned legislation specifically mentions Israelis who “suffer regularly and daily from the noise caused by the call of the muezzin from mosques.”

Before it becomes law it must pass three rounds of voting by lawmakers. A vote scheduled for Wednesday was delayed.

Many Israelis have condemned the bill as an attack on freedom of religion and part of a pattern of persecution against Muslims.

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