Liberal Palestinians Fear Hamas Win

ICC Note:
We know the results at this point (Hamas won) but this a good article giving readers a glimpse into Palestinian politics and the danger of the Hamas win. Christians have been voting with their feet for a while. We fear what is coming.


Liberal Palestinians Fear Hamas Win
Islamist party poised for breakthrough in election
For the full story, go to The Globe & Mail

RAMALLAH, WEST BANK — Jasser Jasser watches quietly as the parade of green flows by his pharmacy. What he sees is unnerving for him, perhaps enough to make him want to leave his home and move elsewhere.

Walking at the front of the parade is a boy, perhaps in his early teens, carrying the banner of the Hamas movement — the Islamic militia-cum-political party that opinion polls suggest is poised for a breakthrough in today’s Palestinian parliamentary election.Then come the drummers, dozens of them, pounding a martial beat. Some of the drummers look to be no more than five or six years old.

That Hamas was able to hold such a large march in the centre of Ramallah, long considered the most liberal Palestinian city and a stronghold of the secular Fatah movement, in the final hours of the election campaign speaks to the momentum the Islamists have heading into today’s vote.

For Mr. Jasser, a 43-year-old pharmacist, that would be the final straw. Christian and liberal-minded, he said a Hamas win would have him packing his bags.

“We’re all afraid. We’re worried about the future, that we’ll become a second Iran .”

It’s a common sentiment in Ramallah, especially among the city’s dwindling Christian community. Where Christians once made up an about 10 per cent of the population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the share is believed to have fallen to less than 2 per cent as many left to escape both the rising Islamicization of society and the constant violence.

While Hamas has worked hard to moderate its message during the campaign — stressing that its primary goal is ending corruption within the Palestinian Authority, and even dropping some of its rhetoric about destroying Israel — many Palestinian Christians are still nervous about being governed by a movement that proclaims “Islam is the answer” in response to tough questions about the collapsed Palestinian economy and prospects for future statehood.

“I’m worried about my daughters, my sisters, my wife. I’m worried about their liberties. I don’t want my wife to have to wear a head scarf. I don’t want Islam to rule my life,” said Abu Harb, the 40-year-old owner of a shop in Ramallah’s Christian district. For fear of retribution, he didn’t want his full name used or his store identified.

A Fatah supporter, he said Hamas was too inflexible to govern. “You can’t argue with them. They just use the Koran to escape from any debate.”

It’s a sentiment that has spread well beyond the tiny Christian community. Many liberal-minded Muslims say they’re just as worried that Hamas, if it does well enough to shape the next government, will try to force its social values onto Palestinian society.

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