Large Yassam, Border Guard and police forces on Tuesday raided the complex of the Abu Sayaf family in Jaffa and confiscated speakers that were used to play Muezzin calls in a mosque situated on the premises.
Around 9:20 am, dozens of Yassam and Border Guard officers arrived at the scene and raided the complex. Several minutes later they left with the speakers.
An article published in Yedioth Tel Aviv last week revealed that the Abu Sayaf family set up a loudspeaker system in the mosque, and played the Muezzin call to prayer five times a day.
Many residents in the surrounding streets complained about the loud volume, calling it a nuisance.
As it turns out, the person who eventually came to their help was no other than Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu),
whose mother Esther Lieberman lives in a nearby street.
However it was the mother's neighbor, Ludmila Cherkov, who turned to the minister for help.
Yassam forces outside the Abu Sayaf complex (Photo: yomnet.net)
"I've known Avigdor for many years. He comes every week to visit his mother. He's always here. I decided to turn to him during one of his visits and raise the problem we have been facing. We have been suffering day and night because of this new Muezzin call and for me Lieberman was the last resort," Cherkov noted.
The Abu Sayaf family claimed the move came on the heels of a recent bill,
dubbed the "Muezzin bill," which proposes to restrict the Muslim call for prayer.
"We've been praying in this mosque for years, and a few months ago we set up some speakers to call people over for prayer. The neighbors didn’t complain, and we received no warning before the search warrant," claimed Ali Abu Sayaf. "Suddenly, dozens of cops came in and dismantled the speakers.
"We maintain coexistence; if they would have asked us to play the prayers more quietly, we would have invited them for a cup of coffee and lowered the volume," he added.
'We would have lowered volume if they had asked.' (Photo: Gilad Morag)
The chairman of the adjacent Ajami neighborhood committee Kamal Agbaria said in response: "The cops acted as if they were carrying out a military operation for all intents and purposes.
"This is a house of prayer that serves as a mosque. This move is part of the state's attempt to legislate the 'Muezzin bill.' It is an infringement on the freedom of worship. The calls are not terrorizing, but rather a soothing call to prayer, which can be enjoyed. Next Friday we will hold a mass prayer in protest," he said.
Agbaria added that "the atmosphere of a radical rightist wave that is sweeping over the country has reached the courts. We have also seen this with the Grunis Law
that was passed in the Knesset.
"Democracy is trampling over the minority and is pushing for an unnecessary war of religion," he said.
Gilad Morag contributed to this report