The American Human Rights Council (AHRC-USA) joins all peace- loving people across the world in condemning the Israeli government’s movement toward banning the Muslim Call for prayer or “Azan.” The Azan has been a part of the life of that part of the world for more than a thousand years.

The ban is not law yet as it has only passed a first reading of the bill in the Knesset. However, supporters of the bill have enough votes to pass it. AHRC-USA believes that this law is discriminatory in intent and in practice. The ban is part and parcel of Israeli practices that only serve to alienate and anger the non- Jewish communities that live in areas controlled by Israel.

Freedom of religion is a human right. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

Israel is violating Muslims’ right to the free exercise of religion. AHRC calls on the international community and the UN to pressure Israel to back down from pursuing this law and other discriminatory practices against communities living under Israeli control. These laws are intended to increase the pressure on non- Jewish communities living under Israeli rule, further alienating them and creating tensions that give rise to violence.

AHRC-USA is deeply concerned with the reality that the Arab-Israeli conflict is increasingly taking a religious nature. Neither Israel nor the US or the rest of the world need religious wars. Religious wars belong in the past in an era when human rights were not recognized and respected. In this day and age, the right to freely exercise one’s religion is a human right. Therefore, we urge the international community and the United Nations to spare no effort in defending the religious rights of all communities living under Israeli control.

AHRC-USA warns that the Call to Prayer ban will add to the divide between Muslims and Jews. It will add to the tensions, anger and hate in the Middle East and the rest of the world.

“We are deeply concerned with Israeli measures that, by default or by design, inflame the region,” said Imad Hamad, AHRC Executive Director. “Muslims do not trust Israel as to Haram al Shareef and the Azan issue adds to the distrust and the tensions. We hope that reason prevails,” added Hamad.

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