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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Arab Israeli Mosque Prayer Caller Fired over Bodybuilder Photos

Lifestyle & Health

7Dnews London

Mon, 04 Feb 2019 09:40 GMT

Photos posted online of a revealing outfit at a bodybuilding contest caused a prayer caller at a mosque to be fired, according to Reuters.

Ibrahim al-Masri, a prayer caller in the Israeli city of Acre, is appealing for his job back. He said that he lost his job as chief muezzin of the Al-Jazzar Mosque after local officials criticised his photos at the state bodybuilding championship in 2017.

"Each sport has a specific type of clothing. Football has its own, tennis has its own, swimming has its own. Same thing for bodybuilding," Masri said, referring to the wire-thin briefs competitors typically wear.

"I never dreamed this would happen. Because I know that Israel is a democratic country, and if someone makes a mistake, they can fix it," Masri said. "But to fix a mistake with another mistake? It's not right."

Around 20% of Israeli citizens are Arab. Mosques and other non-Jewish religious institutions are supervised by local officials who report to the Interior Ministry.

A ministry spokesperson said that Masri "was dismissed in accordance with all the rules" but declined to give further details about the case. The mosque declined to comment and referred questions to the ministry.

Masri said the decision to fire him was taken by an official who viewed it "as something incredibly disgraceful for a religious worker to go enter this competition."

"When they made their decision, they only saw the uniform," he said. "They didn't see the person behind it."

The 46-year-old's voice has become a staple of life in Acre, where Mediterranean waves crash into the walls of the old city. Five times a day he called Muslim faithful to prayer over loudspeakers atop the mosque minaret. He also helped encourage some younger members of the congregation to get off the streets and go to the gym.

Middle East