Jerusalem – While recent rioting in and around Jerusalem’s Old City has left religious tensions between the capital’s Muslims and Jews simmering, a new dispute – this time concerning the volume of prayers, more than the prayers themselves – is resonating in outlying neighborhoods.
Jewish residents of these areas, all of which are in close proximity to Arab neighborhoods in the capital’s east, have begun to complain that the Islamic call to prayer, which is broadcast five times a day from loudspeakers inside local mosques, has become an intolerable nuisance, particularly when it blasts through their neighborhoods at 4 a.m. every day.
“It’s as if they took the speakers and put them inside my bedroom,” Yehudit Raz, a resident of the northeast Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood, told The Jerusalem Post. “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.”
According to Raz, many residents of Pisgat Ze’ev are fed up with the noise, which they say has only gotten louder of late. And the police and municipality, to which, Raz said, residents have complained a number of times, aren’t doing anything about it.
“Everyone is shirking their responsibility,” she said. “All we want is for them to turn their speakers down. How would they feel if we did the same thing to them?”
Raz added that the gunshots and fireworks that often accompany weddings in the nearby neighborhoods of Shuafat, Anata, Beit Hanina and Hizme were adding to the problem, and that residents of Pisgat Ze’ev felt as if they were under siege.
“It’s like we’re living under their rule,” Raz said, adding that the Shuafat refugee camp affected her the most. “It’s the area that’s closest to my home,” she said. “And they just don’t care.