Last November the BBC News website published two articles concerning a proposed bill limiting noise pollution from public address systems in religious establishments.
As was noted here at the time, the reports did not provide BBC audiences with any context concerning similar legislation in other countries – both Arab and Western – and so audiences could not appreciate that the proposed legislation is similar to that already found in several European states (including the UK) where the call to prayer through PA systems is either banned altogether or subject to limitations on days of the week, hours and level of decibels.
The two BBC reports did however provide amplification for claims that the proposed legislation is “divisive” and threatens to spark “religious war”.
On March 8th the BBC News website revisited the same topic in an article titled “Israeli Arab anger as parliament backs ‘muezzin bill’“.
“Two versions of the so-called “muezzin bill”, which would mostly affect Muslim calls to prayer, passed their first readings by slim majorities.
Some Arab MPs ripped apart copies of the legislation during a debate.
The bill will have to go through further readings before becoming law.
One version of the bill would ban all places of worship from using loudspeakers between 23:00 and 07:00. The other would prohibit the use of speakers considered “unreasonably loud and likely to cause disturbance” at any time of day.”
Yet again the article failed to provide BBC audiences with any background information concerning similar legislation in other countries.
However, once again the article did amplify claims of ‘discrimination’.
“The bill’s critics say it as an attack on religious freedom.
“The voice of a muezzin has never caused any environmental noise. It is about an important Islamic religious ritual, and we have never in this house intervened in any religious ceremony related to Judaism. Your action is a racist slur,” warned Ahmed Tibi of the Arab-dominated Joint List alliance during the debate.
“Your intervention strikes at the very souls of Muslims,” he added.
Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Joint List, was thrown out of the chamber after tearing up a copy of the bill.”
The article closes with the following two paragraphs:
“Arab citizens of Israel, also known as Israeli Arabs, are descendants of the 160,000 Palestinians who remained after the State of Israel was created in 1948. They make up about 20% the Israeli population.
About 80% of Israeli Arabs are Muslim; the rest are divided, roughly equally, between Christians and Druze.”
In other words, the BBC inaccurately tells its audiences that Israel’s Druze citizens are “descendants of […] Palestinians” while ignoring both non-Arab Muslims such as Circassians and non-Arab Christians such as Arameans.
The BBC’s coverage of domestic Israeli affairs does not as a rule include every private members’ bill laid before the Knesset and therefore the fact that this particular proposed legislation has now been the subject of three articles before it has even been passed and become law is especially noteworthy.