A call to prayer, or noise pollution? Israel targets mosque loudspeakers

By Peter Baker | The New York Times

LOD, Israel — It would be easy to miss the mosque in a temporary building with a concrete floor and corrugated roof. But it is impossible to miss the constellation of six loudspeakers atop a giant metal structure resembling the Eiffel Tower.

Five times a day, starting well before dawn, these loudspeakers broadcast the muezzin’s call to prayer in Lod, a city of Arabs and Jews near Ben-Gurion International Airport, and therein lies one more friction point in a country full of them. One group’s expression of faith is another’s noise pollution, and Israel’s government is planning a crackdown.

A proposal backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and initially endorsed this week by his ministers would authorize the government to ban the use of loudspeakers by mosques and other houses of worship across Israel. For many on both sides of the nation’s sectarian line, few questions could prove more provocative than whether the muezzin should be muzzled.