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Friday, July 1, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Hamas eases up on its unpopular enforcement
of Islamic principles

GAZA CITY — The Hamas regime has eased pressure on the Gaza Strip to conform to Islamic behavior.


Palestinian sources said the Hamas regime has suspended operations to force Gazans to observe Muslim principles. They said Hamas police were no longer raiding cafes or seeking to prevent women from smoking water pipes in public.

"There has been recognition that most Palestinians were against such measures and that this only escalated anti-government sentiment," a Palestinian source close to the regime said.

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The sources said Hamas appeared to suspend the enforcement of Muslim behavior around May, which also pressured women to cover their hair. They cited massive demonstrations against the regime in March as well as the reconciliation agreement with the rival Fatah movement.

"Fatah is becoming more popular here, only because they never imposed Islam on the population," the source said. "It's clear that Hamas is drawing a lesson from this."

The sources said Hamas has been divided over an enforcement campaign to follow Islamic principles. They said several ministers warned that the campaign was counterproductive while others insisted that this would assuage a growing pro-Al Qaida, or Salafist movement, in the Gaza Strip.

"Hamas is capable of changing its policy in a day, and if it means bolstering the regime, it could go back to enforcement of a Muslim dress code," another Palestinian source said.

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