The Adhan is the Muslim call to prayer. Five times a day it gets broadcast from the loudspeaker of mosques. In Jewish areas of East Jerusalem, residents have complained that the volume of the Adhan has been unnecessarily loud, creating an annoying nuisance, and that Israeli police have not done anything to fix the situation. Especially at 4 a.m., it does not seem reasonable that a call to prayer need be THAT loud; and according to residents of Pisgat Ze’ev, it has been getting louder and louder since Ramadan.
One Pisgat Ze’ev resident named Yehudit Raz told the Jerusalem Post:
“It’s as if they took the speakers and put them inside my bedroom…and it’s not from one mosque or two mosques – we’re talking about tons of speakers going off, one after the other, every morning…everyone is shirking their responsibility…all we want is for them to turn their speakers down. How would they feel if we did the same thing to them?”
Also problematic for Jewish residents, were wedding celebrations featuring fireworks and gunshots in the neighborhoods of Shuafat, Anata, Beit Hanina and Hizme.
“Why must they wake up the whole neighborhood with the noise?” she went on. “Can’t they just get alarm clocks?” asked Raz.
Yael Antebi is the City Councilwoman who represents Pisgat Ze’ev at City Hall and she is a resident. Antebi says that she knows exactly what her fellow residents are complaining about and said that she has been bringing the matter to the proper forum, with the municipality.
One reason that the police may be touchy about addressing such a taboo issue as this is due to recent rioting and unrest at the Holy sites in the area. They do not want to rile the dogs anymore than they have to, so to speak.
Antebi was quoted as saying:
“These mosques are violating noise ordinances…and the police are refusing to get involved…it’s easy for us to say that now isn’t a comfortable time to deal with this issue, but we can always say that…meanwhile, people can’t sleep. This is affecting people’s everyday lives.”
Other complaints have been recorded by Jerusalem residents from Mount Scopus to Gilo. One anonymous Jerusalem resident said:
“When my wife and I lived near the,Mount of Olives cemetery, the speakers were always going off, and loudly…we realized after some time that it was a recording – an mp3 file or something – because a few times, really early in the morning, I guess they had turned the speakers on before they turned on the computer, and the music that comes on when Windows starts up would just blast, really loud, through the whole neighborhood.”
Benny A., a resident of Gilo, told the Jerusalem Post “We hear it [The Adhan] every morning. People get woken up, they can’t get back to sleep, and then they show up to work just exhausted…what I don’t understand is that if this is a religion that says it preaches tolerance, why aren’t they being tolerant here?”
More like tolerable. He continued, “I’m all for freedom of religion and I think they should be able to practice their religion openly, but when it comes to tolerance, they’re forcing their religion into our lives, and we’re their neighbors!”
In defense, Jameel Sanduka, the Mukhtar of Shuafat told the Jerusalem Post last week;
“We were living here long before Pisgat Ze’ev even existed…and this is just a continuation of all the troubles that have been going on on Jeruslaem, and on the Temple Mount.”
“It’s not the noise that bothers these people; Islam bothers them. But there are things that bother us, too. The [security barrier] that has been put up in Shuafat, the checkpoints – these things disrupt our daily lives. So I say, if they have a problem with the noise, it’s their problem.”
Sanduka says that he has been contacted several times by the police, but while they have slightly lowered the volume of the Adhan, for religious reasons they cannot altogether make it cease. Sanduka suggested:
“If they would like to come here, as neighbors, and sit and drink coffee, my hand is always open…when there was trouble between the two communities in the past, I personally went to Pisgat Ze’ev and met with leaders there. I’ve been to their community center, I have a number of friends there…but people who want to start trouble – what can I tell you? They’re going to start trouble.”
The police in Jerusalem certainly have bigger fish to fry; but who the REAL trouble makers are, is a question which certainly should raise eyebrows.