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Recent reports have surfaced that Islamist Palestinian group Hamas has been gradually adopting measures to "Islamize Gaza", a coastal strip it has controlled since June 2007, a claim Hamas denies, saying it is trying to "protect Gazans". According to Khaled al-Hroub of the West Bank-based Palestinian daily AL AYYAM, Hamas has been slowly but surely turning the enclave into a Taliban model of Islam. "Most Islamic, ideological movements fall short of dealing positively with reality, mostly because they are obsessed about changing it drastically, which leads them to fanaticism and extremism, quickly transforming to totalitarian groupings," he said on Aug. 6. Only Turkey's Islamists managed to offer a different experience, Hroub said. "In the Gaza Strip, a terrible replica of totalitarian experiences in social engineering is afoot by Islamizing the people by law and government policies," he observed. This will have imprints at the cultural and social levels in the impoverished Gaza, Hroub added.

For instance, the Hamas judiciary in Gaza has forced on female attorneys in Gaza wearing the Islamic headdress when in court, while there have been reports that female students in public schools have been forced to wear the veil, he stated. A female reporter was arrested in recent weeks on the Gaza beach while in the company of male and female friends. She was interrogated for laughing loudly and was asked about her Mahram (husband, brother, son who accompanies Muslim women in very conservative societies). Hroub also cited the campaigns against the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for being mixed "although they have been so since 1950." "Moral police" have also been roaming the streets of Gaza and the beach in particular "to monitor people's behavior." So Gaza is trying to implement what Saudi Arabia has been trying to rid itself off, according to Hroub, stressing that Gaza does not exactly promote pornography and immorality that it should require "combating vice." Despite claims by Hamas that it wants to repeat the Turkish model of Islam, what is happening on the ground in reality is a replica of the Taliban model of Islam, Hroub opined.
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Title Annotation:ARAB OPINIONS
Publication:The Weekly Middle East Reporter (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Aug 8, 2009
Previous Article:Oman-Iran.
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