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Palestinian Israelis protest at mosque loudspeaker bill

'This law is an advanced form of racial incitement against the Palestinians'
Palestinian Israelis march in town of Kabul, demonstrating against planned Israeli legislation that would quiet mosques (AFP)

Thousands of Palestinian Israelis staged a protest march on Saturday in northern Israel against legislation aimed at silencing mosque loudspeakers.

Some three thousand men and women marched through the town of Kabul, holding Palestinian flags and signs saying "The muezzin law won't pass" or "Don't silence the muezzin," chanting against the legislation and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel's parliament on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to two controversial bills that would limit the calls to prayer from mosques in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, including one prohibiting the use of loudspeakers at all hours.

The bills 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.

While the bills in theory would apply to any religious place of worship, Muslims say they are clearly meant to silence Islam's traditional call to prayer.

The measures have become commonly known as the "muezzin law" after the official charged with making the call to the faithful, often through powerful speakers mounted on minarets.

"This law is an advanced form of racial incitement against the Palestinians," the Palestinian foreign ministry said earlier in a statement.

"It encourages the dissemination of hatred between the followers of divine religions in Palestine - it is against the culture of tolerance and peace."

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

Supporters of the move say it is needed to prevent daily disturbances to the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelis.

Members of the Arab Joint List and the Islamic Movement took part in Saturday's march.

Palestinian Israelis account for almost 18 percent of the country's eight million population, with many identifying as Palestinian.