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Hamas Bans Tight Clothing And Western Haircuts, Sparking Debate

posted 5 Feb 2013, 05:23 by Mpelembe   [ updated 5 Feb 2013, 05:24 ]

A debate over Hamas' Islamist agenda surfaces in Gaza after the ruling party bans low waist pants, tight clothing and western haircuts.

 GAZA CITYGAZA (JANUARY 27, 2013) (REUTERS) - The Islamist rulers of the Gaza Strip have ordered residents to show more modesty in the way they dress.

Hamas has banned tight-fitting or low-waisted pants and trousers, tight coats or cloaks and Western haircuts.

A senior official from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs (Awqaf) in the territory says young Gazans, more and more, are taking to inappropriate dress.

"This campaign by Awqaf in the central governorates in Gaza is taking place to highlight the importance of this issue. There is a phenomena and a problem in the clothes of the students, female and male, inside Palestinian society and mainly in centre of Gaza. They changed their way of wearing their cloths," Adel Al-Hoar, Head of Awqaf

in central Gaza,told Reuters Television.

The move has lead to a debate among Gazans over whether Hamas intends to rule further in the arena of their personal lives.

"I am against this because this is my personal freedom. I think the government and the factions should not interfere in the cloths or personal freedom. Its our right to wear what we want. They should not interfere in areas of clothing and food," Gazan Naeem Samsoum said, sporting gelled hair.

While some liberal-minded Palestinians are speaking out against measures they think are ebbing away at their freedom, many in in the conservative territory of Gaza generally support Hamas' policies.

"This is a very important step because this a step to make females and males to wear the conservative cloths that show that they are committed to religion and to ethic," Muhmmed Wadi, said.

Hamas denies it plans to impose Islamic laws on the local population, but Al-Hoar said that measures have been brought in following complaints.

He added that fashion stores have been told to sell more modest clothing.

"When shops sell clothes that are not similar to our traditions or our religion, it is, in effect, an advertisement for these Western clothes. But, when we sell clothes that are a reflection of our tradition and religion, then that is a way to promote our cultural values and tradition to the people," he says.

Students at al-Aqsa university in Gaza say the administration there has ruled that female students should dress with the hijab covering head and face.

The University has not commented.

While Hamas leaders have denied any intention of imposing Islamic law on the Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, Hamas police tried last year to force women lawyers in court and female school students to wear traditional Muslim clothing, a step that drew a public backlash.

Hamas's move over modest dress is seen by many Palestinians in the Strip as an attempt to mollify more conservative Islamic factions that have accused the movement of failing to uphold sharia law.

In Hebron in the West Bank, the territory where Fatah Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' faction is in control, females wear the hijab.

Ten miles away in Bethlehem, western haircuts and low waist pants are normal guise.