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Local committee: Fine against al-Ludd mosque for adhan broadcast 'blind racism'

Nov. 23, 2016 10:06 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 24, 2016 11:37 A.M.)
AL-LUDD (Ma’an) -- A local committee in the Israeli town of al-Ludd (Lod) met on Tuesday to discuss the Israeli municipality’s imposition of a fine on the town mosque for using loudspeakers to broadcast the call to prayer earlier this week, calling the decision “blind racism.”

A mosque in al-Ludd, located just south of Tel Aviv, was fined $200 on Monday in what the mosque's imam said was the first time Israeli authorities had imposed such a penalty on the adhan -- the Muslim call to prayer that is broadcast five times a day -- in al-Ludd, calling it “a very dangerous step.”

Sheikh Muhammad al-Far went on to accuse the municipality of acting just as a recent bill backed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was making its way through Israel’s parliament to ban the use of loudspeakers for the Muslim call to prayer in Israel.

In a statement sent to Ma’an on Wednesday, the local committee said that Knesset members Jamal Zahalka and Hanin Zoabi, both Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, Palestinian members of the al-Ludd municipality, activists, and sheikhs attended the meeting.

The attendees called the municipality’s decision a violation of human rights, ethics, international law, and every religion’s values, the statement read, adding that the fine showed “blind racism” and hatred against Muslim presence in the town.

The statement went on to say that the mayor of al-Ludd did not represent all of the town’s residents -- roughly a quarter of whom were Palestinian citizens of Israel in 2011 according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics -- and that the official was capitulating to the wishes of those opposed to Palestinian and Muslim presence in the area and attempting to suppress Palestinian identity in the town.

Following the meeting, the local committee decided to organize a protest, to resist any official orders regarding the broadcast of the adhan, to boycott the mayor of al-Ludd and only deal with members of the municipality who were Palestinian citizens of Israel, and to continue holding meetings on the issue.

Though the draft legislation currently being discussed by the Knesset, which calls for barring the use of loudspeakers for any religious or "inciting" messages, does not explicitly target Islam, Israeli lawmakers were likely to add a provision making an exception for the siren that some communities use at the start of the Jewish sabbath, according to Haaretz.

Despite needing to pass several more readings and votes in Israel’s parliament for the bill to become a law, locals said that Israeli authorities banned the dawn adhan from being broadcast over loudspeakers in three different mosques in Palestinian town of Abu Dis in the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem earlier this month, a day after Israeli settlers protested in front of the house of Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barakat over the "noise pollution" caused by the Muslim call to prayer.

Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian Authority (PA)-appointed governor of Jerusalem, told Ma’an at the time of the anti-adhan protest that the sound of the call to prayer didn’t rise above an agreed-upon decibel level, adding that Israeli settlers were not annoyed by the noise, but by the call to prayer as a reminder of Palestinian presence in Jerusalem.

Palestinian communities in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem have long been targeted by discriminatory Israeli policies, whether through “divide and conquer” tactics, attempts at forcibly displacing Bedouin communities, and what has been denounced as a policy of "Judaization" of Jerusalem at the expense of other religious communities.
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