David Frum

02.13.13

Hamas' Suppression of Human Freedom

A new report by the Interpress Service news agency details the steady suppression of human freedom by the Hamas regime that rules Gaza.

In the last few weeks a number of journalists have been arrested and accused of being involved in “suspicious activities”, several detainees shot dead by police during arrest attempts, and female students asked to abide by a strict Islamic dress code.

“Hamas is on a gradual track of the Islamisation of Gazan society, which goes against their early promises,” Dr Samir Awad from Birzeit University near Ramallah tells IPS. “Most people in Gaza, even the most conservative, oppose this. Gazans are already very conservative and they don’t need Hamas dictating their religion to them.”

Women have borne the brunt of the crackdown. Gaza’s Al Aqsa University has announced that female students will be required to wear full traditional Muslim garb, from head to toe. Some female students have expressed outrage, claiming that the new demands are in violation of their public freedom. They say that already female students are modestly dressed but that some prefer wearing pants and a long overcoat rather than a burka, abaya or hijab. In the past, Hamas has banned women from riding on the backs of motorbikes, from smoking water pipes, and men from working in female hair salons – saying such practices were immodest. Not all bans, however, have been imposed uniformly.