Israeli reality TV ‘A Muezzin is Born’
Israel has proposed a “Muezzin Bill” which if implemented, will restrict loudspeaker use for religious purposes. Unsurprisingly, the bill has drawn sharp criticism from the Muslim world. The most creative protest has come from the residents of Jaffa. They have organized an American Idol style reality television competition named “A Muezzin is Born.” The competition is being organized by the muezzins of Jaffa city. The winner will get to visit Mecca free of cost.
A muezzin is a person who leads the Muslim call to prayer. In Israel, Muslims form a minority population and the contest is more a kind of protest than an actual contest to find the best caller. The muezzin must call out the immediate local population to prayer five times every day. The first call is done early in the morning and the last at night. Each prayer starts with the assertion that God is greatest.
The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, says that he has received a number of complaints against these calls. The Israeli parliament supports any action to control or silence their volume. The list of complainants includes not only Jews and Christians, but also Muslims too tired of the high decibel volume. The two bills in this regard will silence any call to prayer prior to seven in the morning and lower volume calls during other times of the day or night.
The contest saw a total of 40 teenage boys auditioning for the position. Only nine among them could reach the semi-finals of the Young Muezzin Competition. One of the competition judges has termed the proposed legislation as “war against Islam”. Ahmad Abu Lsan, an air-conditioner installer by day and muezzin enthusiast said, “Today it’s the call to prayer. Tomorrow, it will be the Muslim headscarf. Next time, it'll be something else.”
Participants of the A Muezzin is Born competition received praise and criticism just like the U.S. reality contests. One contestant was asked to practice for a year before he approaches the judges again.
Critics of the bill say it unfairly tightens the noose on religious freedom for Israeli Muslims. Supporters of the bill say that if this bill is passed, Israelis can sleep at night undisturbed. They point out similar limitations already exist in several Arab and European countries. The contestants have roundly rejected the law, saying prayer is part of their personal religious life.