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Israeli Anti-Adhan Bill Intolerable: Top Turkish Cleric

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If passed, law would ban use of loudspeakers to amplify Muslim call to prayer in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem

The Israeli parliament’s first vote on a bill to ban the use of loudspeakers for the Muslim call to prayer (adhan) is a denial of Islam and Muslims’ existence in the territory, Turkey's top cleric said Thursday.

The comments by Mehmet Gormez come a day after the Knesset approved a preliminary reading of the controversial bill in a tumultuous session during which Arab lawmakers shouted “Allahu Akbar!” (“God is great!”) inside the assembly.

Gormez, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), called the bill “unacceptable” during an opening ceremony of the Seyh Samil Mosque in Turkey's southeastern Gaziantep province.

"If you ban the call of adhan to be recited by muezzins [reciters of adhan], the whole community of that city and country become muezzins, recite the adhan together and thereby express that they don't accept the ban,” he underlined. “No one can fetter or ban the hearts [of people]."

Describing Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem as among the largest and holiest shrines for Muslims following the cities of Mecca and Medina, Gormez stressed that such signs symbolizing Muslims' existence and freedom of religion could not be erased.

He underlined that mosques are not only places where people perform their daily prayers, but also communal areas which peacefully bring people together to stand by and help one another.

The draft legislation in the Knesset aims to stop mosques from using loudspeakers to amplify the Muslim call to prayer in Israel and Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The bill imposes fines on violators ranging between the equivalent of $1,300 and $2,600.

Second and third readings of the draft law must still be approved by the Knesset before it becomes law.

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