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Fears in Gaza over Hamas’ intention to impose Sharia

Gazans debate Hamas “Islamization” signals

ICC Note

The move by Hamas to impose Sharia law in Gaza results in violation of human rights for people of Gaza , including freedom of religion for Gaza ’s Christian minorities.

08/04/2009 Palestine (Al Arabiya News Channel)-Men cannot go topless on Gaza beaches, owners of clothes shops are told to remove mannequins displaying lingerie and some couples complain of being asked for marriage papers as they walk in the streets.

Human Rights groups and critics say some in the Islamist Hamas group, which rules Gaza , are exerting pressure to impose Islamic law on the public at a time when others seek to engage with the Western world.

Islamic values

“There were figures in Hamas calling for imposing Islamic laws … while others felt it was not the right time … because they were concerned about the outside world ”

Taleb Abu Shaar, the Minister of Religious Affairs, said the campaign of his ministry was “cultural and educational,” to spread public awareness but not to force people to do things.

“The campaign is in line with our religion and traditions. We see some dangers threatening youth and some wrongdoings, and our role is advise and to warn our people against bad things,” Abu Shaar said.

Sharia

“The campaign is in line with our religion and traditions. We see some dangers threatening youth and some wrongdoings, and our role is advise and to warn our people against bad things ”

Minister of Religious Affairs Taleb Abu ShaarSharia is the body of Islamic religious law based primarily on the Islamic holy book, the Quran, as well as the words and actions of the Prophet Mohammad. It is a legal framework that regulates both public and private life. Segregation of sex and women’s dress code is another much-debated aspect of sharia.

Human Rights groups expressed concern over decisions made by some Hamas ministers, of which some were later eased, such as checking men walking with women.

Khalil Abu Shammala, director of al-Dameer Association for Human Rights, got complaints from people who had been stopped by policemen requesting identity and marriage papers to prove their relationship with opposite sex companions.

“The decision was cancelled after some Hamas leaders noted that its implementation angered the public,” he said.

“Wrong-thinking”

“Some people exaggerate the campaign in order to accuse the government to stir fears in society. We do not force people to do what they dislike.”

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