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Fear and Fundamentalism as the 'Modesty Police' Patrol Gaza

Society & Culture  (tags: Gaza, fundamentalism, Islam, modesty )

- 1801 days ago -
Police in Gaza have arrested at least 41 men on charges of immodesty this April. The city is gripped with fear that Hamas is driving the population towards militant Islamic fundamentalism.

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P. L. Neola (21)
Wednesday May 15, 2013, 12:48 pm
It appears that granting Palestine’s sub-state status might have been the worst thing for the Palestinian citizens. Palestine is just a little pawn in the Islamic chess game. They want their own country; however, the Islamic hierarchy wants to oppress and control Palestine for their own manipulative gain.

If it was not for the deep indoctrination into the Muslim ideology, this culture of people would have figured out a long time ago that they were better off coexisting and standing with Israel.

Israel has a history of not being too discriminating and that is one reason why they tend to get into a lot of trouble with God. God asks for them to annihilate all of a culture, and Israel never can! They tend to be disobedient because of a soft-heart!

God loves them because they are a “peculiar” kind of people. However, their peculiarity is that they really do have a great capacity to love with compassion and seem willing to suffer the consequences for having the qualities that cause their incidences of defiance towards God.

When Palestine received their sub-state status, Islam put a choker-chain and leash around the Palestinian necks. Now, Islam is tightening the choker-chain around Palestinian people’s necks.

Instead of acquiring freedom they will be forced to swallow hard in accepting oppression!!!

Alexa R (319)
Wednesday May 15, 2013, 1:21 pm
How very sad, and the West thought that once every single Jewish family/person is evacuated from Gaza that there will be peace with Israel ... how very deluded.

Gillian M (218)
Wednesday May 15, 2013, 1:44 pm
I may be pushing my submission but it does support this article on how the Gazans are abused by their own. Yet the anti-Semites blame the Israelis for their suffering which doesn't help them at all. Perhaps they should wake up and see the genuine suffering and try to help and stop blaming the wrong people for it and maybe actually help them.

Anti-Semitism is too ingrained in them!

Alan Lambert (91)
Wednesday May 15, 2013, 2:00 pm
The Anti-Semites among the population of Gaza didn't exist before 1948. Unfortunately too many Muslims, Christians and Jews alike are conflating being anti-Semitic with being anti-Israeli. In other words, opposing the decisions of the nation of Israel is not the same as opposing Jewish people because they are Jewish.

Cousin It Addams (8)
Wednesday May 15, 2013, 2:16 pm
so what is this?
first the saturday people
then the sunday people

and after that friday people are the only ones left to victimize anymore so it's their turn? as much as this would suck to have it imposed by an enemy, it's far more odious coming from your own.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday May 15, 2013, 2:19 pm
Hamas is creating the prison camp yet Israel is perceived as the enemy.

. (0)
Wednesday May 15, 2013, 2:38 pm
Thank you Ge M. for your posting. I couldn't have written it better.

pam w (139)
Wednesday May 15, 2013, 3:44 pm
OK...we know how absolutely MANIC they are about women....and now, MEN, TOO?

Jennifer Ward (40)
Wednesday May 15, 2013, 4:03 pm
This is what happens when religious fanatics get power. Ask yourself this- what have the Palestinians done for mankind that they deserve to be treated as sacred cows? Their alleged oppression by 'aparthied' Israel is overblown and hysterical- get fully informed folks- if Hamas and Fatah get their way Palestine and Israel will end up a bloodbath just like Syria- Islamists just can't help themselves.

patrica and edw jones (190)
Thursday May 16, 2013, 12:05 am
Can't think of a single thing the Pallies have done to benefit anyone except themselves. They were sent packing from Syria, Jordan Egypt and Lebanon as we recall.....since they did nothing but create trouble.

Stan B (123)
Thursday May 16, 2013, 12:48 am
Hamas and the Taliban are the lowest forms of life on the planet. They are thugs, bullies and brain-dead hypocrites. No one should have any dealings with them.
BDS Hamas.

Jay S (116)
Thursday May 16, 2013, 8:57 am
Hamas IS an Orthodox Muslim group which has been trying to establish Gaza as another oppressive Sharia hate state all along, and doing very well at it at that.

Nothing they do should surprise any informed person. The day Islam disappears from the region and the earth, is the day Gazans and others oppressed by it can begin to progress and advance. Nothing will improve there until then, sadly.

Carola May (20)
Thursday May 16, 2013, 9:01 am
Stan, you left out their big umbrella group - the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest membership organisation in the world with many front groups working in all our countries trying to subvert our freedoms and democracy and to force us all to live under Sharia's barbaric and bigoted law. They, with Saudi oil billions, are the source of much of Islamic terror and oppression everywhere. And they've even got 'advisers' in the White House! That explains a lot, doesn't it?

Carola May (20)
Thursday May 16, 2013, 9:11 am
BTW, where are all the foaming at the mouth Israelophobes and Anti-semites that blame every problem in Gaza and the world on Israel and Jews?? Why aren't the usual ignorant bigots we usually hear here present to defend this brutal, Islamist dictatorship like the always do? You know who they are.

They never do condemn any atrocity committed by Hamas or any other Orthodox Islamic hate group, nor do they ever criticise or condemn even one of the many verses of hate toward all non-Muslims, women, gays etc, in Islamic scripture. Maybe even they can't defend and deny this.

Alexander Werner (53)
Friday May 17, 2013, 7:07 am
It's three weeks since his arrest but Ismail Halou still has streaks of purple bruising on the soles of his feet. The 22 year-old was filling cars at his family's petrol station in Gaza City at 5pm on April 4th when a black jeep pulled into the forecourt, plain-clothed police stepped out and ordered him into the car. He was blindfolded and driven to the nearest police station.
"I could hear the screams of people being beaten in the rooms next to me. Two men held my legs down and tied them together on a wooden board then they beat the soles of my feet with a plastic rod. They beat me for at least five minutes. I was crying and screaming with agony. It was the worst pain I've ever felt," Mr Halou recalls.
It was only after the beating that police officers set to work trying to shave off the one-inch fin of gelled hair that was the cause of his arrest.
"At no point did they tell me why they had arrested me. I found out from neighbours when I got home that it was because of my hair," Mr Halou explains, running a hand over the fuzzy regrowth on his head. He could not walk for three days after his release.
Police in Gaza, a Palestinian coastal enclave run by Islamist faction Hamas, have arrested at least 41 men on charges of immodesty this April.
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Most of them were beaten, all of them had their heads forcibly shaven. Some were shaven because their haircuts that were deemed culturally inappropriate, others because their trousers were either too low-slung or too fitted. In at least two cases, police also cut-up jeans deemed too tight.
Rajou Hayek, 33, was arrested while pushing his wheelchair-bound father to a health clinic in Gaza City, he claims for no reason other than intimidation.
"When I arrived at the police station, the first thing I saw was a mountain of hair, it looked like it had been shaved from 300 heads," Mr Hayek says.
He sustained a savage beating before also having his head shaved.
"It was humiliating, I was crying throughout. This policy is nothing to do with jeans or hairstyles. Hamas is just trying to make Gaza afraid of them."
During their six years running Gaza, Hamas security forces have used thuggish tactics against political opponents.
But a violently enforced public modesty campaign is new. This latest trend of punitive head shaving has shocked a conflict and poverty hardened community. Gaza is gripped with a palpable fear that Hamas is driving the population towards unapologetic, militant, Islamic fundamentalism.
Ihab Al Ghusain, director of the Hamas media centre in Gaza and former spokesperson for the interior ministry, is critical of the police force's violent methods but defends their message.
"Young people should be concerned with their education and what Israel is doing to us rather than concentrating on the outside world and pop stars with those sorts of haircuts," he told The Telegraph.
The 'haircut campaign', as it has been dubbed, follows a surge in extremist directives from Gaza's Hamas leadership. In March, the United Nations issued a statement cancelling their annual Gaza marathon because Hamas had forbidden women, both local and foreign, from running alongside men – a practice it had allowed for the previous five years.
Osama Mazini, Hamas' minister for education, announced on April 1st a new law forbidding girls and boys over the age of nine from being educated alongside, or taught by anyone, of the opposite sex. In practice, almost all schools in Gaza are already gender segregated but this new legislation served a political rather than a practical purpose.
"There is no question that Gaza is more 'Islamicised' now that it has been at any point since Hamas took power and it is only getting worse," warns Samar Zakout, deputy director of Al Mezan human rights organisation.
"To the international community, the Hamas leadership say they are politically open, that they respect human rights. But at home they are struggling to convince their members they are protectors of traditional values."
Following their landslide victory over rival, secular faction Fatah in Gaza's 2007 elections, Israel promptly sealed its borders with the hostile new neighbour that denied its existence and is yet to lift a blockade of the territory that has caused a profound economic crisis.
Hamas worked steadily to shape the character of Gaza in its image. An early attempt to introduce Sharia law into the penal code failed but fundamentalist Islamic codes have been enforced on the community through fear and suggestion.
Hamas warned against women smoking nargilla water pipes in public, raided weddings where women and men were reported to be dancing together and waged a PR campaign in girls' schools to encourage students to cover themselves entirely, pitting school heads against liberal parents.
Fear and self-censorship have transformed Gaza. In Gaza's cafés, heady clouds of orange blossom and apple vapour billow from nargilla pipes smoked exclusively by men. There are now few bare heads among the streams of young women and girls pouring out of Gaza's schools and universities. Female figures seldom walk alone through Gaza City's streets and markets, and those who do usually move briskly and are shrouded.
And yet, over the past year, Hamas has sustained attacks from its own party faithful and rival jihadist groups angered by the moderate policies of its leadership.
On April 6th, a group of 30 Salafi mothers aligned protested in Rafah, in Gaza's conservative South, demanding the release of their sons arrested by Hamas for firing rockets into Israel. Three days earlier, a supermarket in Jabalia refugee camp was the target of a Salafist bomb attack protesting Western influence on Palestinian society.
This spark in violent Salafi protests and the introduction of the Hamas police force's head-shaving campaign coincide neatly with the re-election of Khaled Meshaal as leader of the Hamas politburo on April 2nd in Cairo.
Mr Meshaal, who has lived in exile for decades and first visited Gaza in December last year, has enraged Hamas hardliners with his concessions to Fatah and Israel. In February 2012, he signed the Dohar Agreement agreeing to Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah leader and president of the Palestinian Authority president, heading a reconciled Palestinian government.
Mr Meshaal has not recognised the state of Israel, as Yasser Arafat did in 1988, but has agreed to a Palestinian state within 1967 borders. He was also instrumental in brokering a deal to end last November's conflict with Israel. To Gaza's extremist elements, Mr Meshaal is not a moderate he is an Israeli collaborator.
Mkhaimer Abusaid, a political scientist at Gaza's Azhar University, links the recent increase in Hamas' Islamist policies to a rift within the Hamas membership between those who oppose reconciliation with Fatah and those who support Mr Meshaal.
"Much of this recent chaos in Gaza is attention grabbing by radical elements beaten by Meshaal in the Cairo elections who are trying to prove that they are still in control of Gaza," explains Mkhaimer Abusadi, a political scientist at Gaza's Azhar University.
He points in particular to Mousa Abu Marzouk, Mr Meshaal's former deputy, and Fadi Hamad, Gaza's hard-line minister of interior. Both lost their positions in Hamas' central command but remain powerful figures in Gaza.
Until Mr Meshaal makes significant headway in his reconciliation efforts, is rivals in charge on the ground in Gaza will continue undermine his efforts towards moderacy on the world stage by embracing fundamentalism at home. A population already battered by devastating bouts of conflict with Israel and a six-year blockade will be squeezed even further.
For Ismail Halou's, whose father was killed in an Israeli air strike shortly after Israel's Operation Cast Lead in 2010 as he walked between his mosque and his car, enough is enough. If he could leave Gaza he would, but he can't.
"Hamas is getting stricter and stricter," he says. "We are already under so much pressure, there are troubles with Israel, troubles with factions, troubles with the economy, and now it's our jeans and our hairstyles? For me, for anyone, this is too much."

Cousin It Addams (8)
Wednesday May 22, 2013, 1:58 pm
the leaders (so called) of the palestinians, or what passes for palestinians these days anyway, will NEVER allow gaza to be more than a hell-hole. why? well, all the relief money would dry up if they were happy and self-sufficient. and then what would they do about stuffing their foreign bank accounts where they have millions stashed but the average gazan goes without?

reft h (66)
Saturday May 25, 2013, 1:17 am
thanks for the article. Eventually the truth evolves.
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