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Israel MPs Give Initial Approval to Bills Quieting Mosques

JERUSALEM (AFP) –  Israel’s parliament gave preliminary approval Wednesday to two measures that would limit calls to prayers from mosques, including one prohibiting the use of loudspeakers at all hours, a parliament statement said.

The second of the bills would ban loudspeakers between 11 pm and 7 am in urban areas. The bills will have to be reconciled later in the legislative process, with three more readings required before they can become law.

They were approved after a heated discussion that turned into shouting matches between ruling coalition members and Arab lawmakers, some of whom tore copies of the legislation and were ejected from the chamber.

The bills passed 55-48 and 55-47.

While the bills in theory would apply to any religious place of worship, Muslims say it is clearly meant to silence the traditional call to prayer at mosques.

The notion of Israeli legislation silencing mosques has sparked outrage around the Arab and wider Muslim world.

Supporters of the move say it is needed to prevent daily disturbance to the lives of hundreds of thousands of non-Muslim Israelis.

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