Morsey Abo Mokh, the mayor of the Arab city of Baqa al-Gharbiyye in northern Israel, has ordered local mosques to raise the volume of the call of the muezzin using loudspeakers belonging to the municipality.
The move comes in response to the passing of the so-called “Muezzin Law” in a preliminary reading in the Knesset.
The Palestinian Authority-based WAFA news agency reported on Thursday that residents of Baqa al-Gharbiyye, as well as residents of other Arab-Israeli cities and towns, support the move, and have expressed their willingness to place amplifiers on the roofs to enhance the sound of the call to prayer.
“We will never respect this law and we will not surrender even if they arrest us,” one imam was quoted as having said.
The “Muezzin Law” was recently brought back to the Knesset after changes to it were agreed upon.
The original bill stalled when the haredi parties in the coalition, fearing that it could be used to silence the Shabbat sirens which announce the beginning of the Sabbath each Friday, joined with the Arab parties in opposing the bill.
The new version of the law would only affect calls to prayer issued at night, removing any concern that the Shabbat sirens, which sound before sundown, would be affected.
According to the version of the law recently passed by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, any house of prayer using outdoor loudspeakers between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. would be liable to pay a fine of at least 5,000 shekels ($1,333).
The law has been met with considerable resentment in the Arab Muslim world. Political and religious leaders threatened to escalate the crisis with local authorities if the legislation is approved by the Knesset.
The Palestinian Authority has expressed its opposition as well, with chairman Mahmoud Abbas warning the bill “would drag the area to disaster.”