It began with a rash of unusually assertive police patrols. Armed Hamas officers stopped men from sitting shirtless on the beach, broke up groups of unmarried men and women, and ordered shopkeepers not to display lingerie on mannequins in their windows. Then came an effort to force female lawyers to abide by a more conservative dress code, and intense pressure on parents to dress their daughters more conservatively for the new school term. Last week police began enforcing a new decree banning women from riding on motorbikes.For the first time since Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections nearly four years ago, the group is trying to Islamise Gazan society. In public, Hamas leaders say they are merely encouraging a social moral code, and insist they are not trying to imitate the religious police who operate in some other rigid Islamic countries. But to many it feels like a new wave of enforcement in what is already a devoutly Muslim society. …Gazan society has become markedly more conservative over the last decade. In part that is down to the growing influence of Islamist movements such as Hamas and others that hold even more extremist views. Palestinians here also blame Israel’s tough economic blockade, which they say has prevented a free flow of ideas and debate and largely stopped Gazans travelling abroad. Violence in the conflict, they say, tends to allow conservatism to flourish….This education campaign is called fadeela or virtue, and in part consists of posters distributed across the city. Some advise young people against smoking or taking drugs. Others warn against internet pornography or satellite television: “Be careful. Watching dirty channels corrupts the family and the coming generation.” That particular poster lists recommended channels: all are religious and Islamic. Mostly the campaign focuses on what women wear. One startling poster decries the trend for young women to wear their headscarf along with tight jeans as a “satanic industry 100%”. It shows a red devil holding an image of a fashionable young woman and recommends a fuller, less glamorous head covering, counselling: “The right hijab is your way to heaven.”
An earlier post discussed a Hamas ban on motorcycle riders from carrying women on the back seat.
The Hamas charter states that it is “is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine” and an Israeli TV station has reported that Muslim Brotherhood “representatives” have traveled to Gaza from Egypt through the open border to meet with Hamas. An early media report indicated that shortly after Hamas took over the Gaza strip, Muslim Brotherhood representatives were present to review Hamas military formations. Last June, a Hamas journalist acknowledged the role that the “international Muslim Brotherhood” has played in providing funds for the purchase of weapons. Hamas is supported financially and politically by the global Muslim Brotherhood and a NEFA Foundation report has documented the Hamas fund-raising activities of the Union of Good, a coalition of Islamic charities linked to the Brotherhood that provides financial support to both the Hamas “social” infrastructure, as well as its terrorist activities. Previous posts have also discussed the worldwide campaign orchestrated by the global Brotherhood against Israeli actions in Gaza during the recent conflict. An earlier post reported a statement by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood claiming that Hamas was “an independent entity”
Despite the intimate relationship between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Guardian report claims that the “Hamas campaign was not inevitable”:
The Hamas campaign was not inevitable. Hamas is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a broader Islamist movement present in most Arab and Islamic countries, which generally believes in winning over supporters by encouragement and debate one mind at a time, rather than by imposing decrees from above. But the movement has been rattled by the appearance of more extremist groups in the Gaza Strip, including one, Jund Ansar Allah, which in August seized control of a mosque in Rafah resulting in a gun battle that left more than a dozen dead. The extremists counted among their members several disgruntled former Hamas men. Abu Shaar, the Hamas minister, said the extremists were misguided and “in a hurry to impose sharia”. Hamas, he insisted, believed in “moderate Islam”. It leaves Hamas caught between conflicting pressures ? those in the west who want the movement to renounce violence and become part of the political process; Hamas militants who want to return to an outright armed struggle against Israel; and extremists in Gaza who want a rapid move to a rigidly Islamic society.
The report fails to note that the Muslim Brotherhood has never seized power in any country and therefore it cannot be known what decrees might or might not be issued in such circumstances.