On air: Women of Gaza : Virtue reality

“We have to encourage people to be virtuous and keep them away from sin “

000097304Hamas has launched it’s “virtue campaign” in  Gaza . 

Lingerie can’t be displayed in shop windows, female lawyers will have to wear headscarves in court and teenagers must stop playing “suggestive” music.

Men and women are also being told to celebrate separately at wedding parties.

At the moment the new moves are voluntary but deputy minister Abu Jarbou predicted Islamic law would eventually be imposed…..despite previous promises not to force it on the strip’s 1.5 million people.

Here’s the story of a Palestinian journalist who officials tried to arrest for being dressed immodestly and laughing in public.

This blogger  warns against trying to portray Gaza as a land “teeming with fundamentalism ” and points out coverage in a Lebanese newspaper..:

“Al-Akhbar’s main argument is that in the midst of widespread poverty and unemployment, pushing measures that further “islamicize” the public sphere is much easier than under normal circumstances when, you know, people aren’t starving.”

Do you view this campaign as a backwards – or forward – step in how Gaza is governed ?

57 Responses to “On air: Women of Gaza : Virtue reality”

  1. July 29, 2009 at 15:05

    Israel still occupies Gaza and continues to restrict the flow of humanitarian aid into the Palestinian province. Nearly every day, Israeli troops attack and kill Palestinians. I am wondering whether the people of Gaza are more worried about their day-to-day survival in light of Israeli aggression against them or whether the recent imposition of moral codes on them does indeed make an impact on their lives.

  2. 2 Nanci
    July 29, 2009 at 15:13

    I wish this weren’t happening. I don’t like theocratic states, whatever their form. I wish Hamas wasn’t trying to islamicize Gaza. It also hurts the cause of Palestinian nationalism and statehood, which gains more sympathy when it is being presented as secular, not religious.

    There are Muslim feminists who choose to wear a headscarf, so who am I to say this is a backward step. What do Muslim women of Gaza have to say about this? What do the people of Gaza have to say about this? Is it what they want?

  3. July 29, 2009 at 15:13

    It seems now people in Gaza are besieged from all fronts. There is the Israeli blockade coupled with Egypt closing borders with Gaza. Now they are besieged by morality code. Concerning this, it is a foreshadow what an independent Palestinian state will be, a state in continuous division as there are secular Palestinians ( Muslim and Christians), mainly those living in the West Bank who won’t favour such hard Islamic measures.

    One should really fear sorry for the Gazans who are surrounded by all sorts of woes from Israeli blockade to Hamas stringent measures. One should really wonder if the Gazans are now really living in a collective prison subjected to all sorts of discipline to keep things apparently in order when the majority are trying to escape for a normal life.

  4. 4 patti in cape coral
    July 29, 2009 at 15:15

    In trouble for laughing in public? How very sad…

  5. 5 steve
    July 29, 2009 at 15:23

    Yet they don’t consider launching rockets at Israel or conducting suicide bombings to be “sins”. Pink, honestly, how badly is Israel “oppressing” them if they are this worried about “immorality” such as lingerie and female lawyers not wearing headscarves in court? Is it possible that Israel isn’t the root cause of every problem in the muslim world?

    • 6 NSC London
      August 4, 2009 at 11:35

      Totally agreed. When is this little Palestinian pity party the west is having going to end? Israel isn’t blameless in this situation either but somehow the sympathies of the west have now shifted entirely towards Palestine, a society which ironically is 100% incompatible with western values and whose leadership would gladly topple western civilisation and replace it with this primitive Islamic nonsense if given the chance.

      • August 4, 2009 at 16:24

        Is there some problem with a community that does not want to live like Westerners? Also, where have you read that any of the Palestinian political parties desire to take over the world, rather than restricting their governance to Palestine?

  6. 8 Ramesh, India
    July 29, 2009 at 15:27

    If things don’t change for good in our lives, there is a danger of us falling backwards than staying where we are. Gaza is a fine example. If the conflict with Israel is resolved and Palestinians are allowed to govern themselves, they will surely start to move forward sooner or later.

    • 9 NSC London
      August 4, 2009 at 11:37

      I have to disagree, there is ample evidence to suggest that radical Islam is not solely the byproduct of poverty. As Samuel Huntington prophetically wrote, “modernisation does not equal westernisation.” Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc. are highly modern, wealthy states and are still the seats of Islamic fundamentalism.

  7. 10 David
    July 29, 2009 at 15:36

    Everyone man knows the longing in women to be appreciated for their inner and outer beauty. The problem with Islam is that they curb this natural and attractive quality in women. I am a Christian and like muslims i am all for modesty. But i dont think showing a woman’s hair, arms, neck and knees downwards is immodest… Let the girls live a little and enjoy themselves tastefully!

  8. 11 Deryck/Trinidad
    July 29, 2009 at 15:39

    The Palestinians and Hamas have their right to self determination and therefore it is a positive move on their part. Westerners on the other hand will regard it as a negative move. If that is what they want then let them do it.

  9. 12 Linda from Italy
    July 29, 2009 at 15:42

    First of all I want to make it plain that I absolutely loathe things done to woman in the name of some versions of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, I would only choose to live in broadly secular European country and am in favour of prohibiting the wearing of tents and any other measures that threaten women’s human rights as this concept is understood in Europe.
    Gaza is a completely different proposition. I actually agree with Pink and with the blogger quoted and this further demonising of Hamas, which was elected by the people of Gaza, seems to have come at a rather convenient moment, more fuel to the fire of barring them from any form of participation in possible peace talks? Jewish settlements miraculously off the agenda?
    Adherence to Islamic and other kinds of religious fundamentalism is only the symptom of the real disease, a composite of inequality, oppression and lack of hope, the latest example being Nigeria, where clever power-mongers see the opportunity to build their own private armies to carry out their twisted agendas by offering some sort of possible salvation, even if this is apparently in some fictitious afterlife.
    If people are given a fair deal in life, they won’t follow these ghastly creeds and as supposedly “civilised” nations we should be waging our “War on Terror”, not with guns and bombs, nor by judging what is a backward or forward step, but by trying to remove the root causes of the sort of misery that drives people to extremism, particularly in the Gaza strip.

    • 13 Nanci
      July 29, 2009 at 16:09

      Linda, I agree to an extent to what you said. However, Hamas here is contributing to its own demonisation. I agree that focusing on Hamas gender and moral policies does take focus off of the real issues of a peace agreement. But human nature being what it is and the West perceiving Islamicization the way it does, means that Hamas’ actions does hurt its cause, whether it’s fair or not.

      I just wish, if this is the kind of society they want, they wait until they have their own state—-it is a distraction that Hamas does have control over. If they want to manage PR better and gain more international sympathy for Gaza, they could just postpone this agenda for awhile.

  10. 14 Andrew in Australia
    July 29, 2009 at 15:49

    On the ‘gay olympics’ topic, regardless of this section of society, whether it is one group or another no matter who or what they are, if on the one hand you seek equality in all aspects of society then exclude others and hold segregated events for your group not only are you exposing your hypocrisy but also a desire that you do now wish to fully integrate with broader society that you are critical of for imposing limits on your group. You cannot condemn on the one hand and then do exactly the same on the other without harming your moral stand on an issue.

  11. 15 John in Salem
    July 29, 2009 at 16:12

    I have always maintained that you cannot legislate morality and the reason is simple – it doesn’t work. People and attitudes change. You can’t pass a law to make time run backwards and you can’t stop the rest of the world from evolving, and while your citizens may go along with it in the name of solidarity for the common struggle, their grandchildren will burn you, and your laws, at the stake.

  12. 16 Deryck/Trinidad
    July 29, 2009 at 16:18

    From reading the story it seems that Hamas is attempting a form of creeping dictatorship.
    1. Coming into power because of the failings of Fatah and promising that they would not impose religious beliefs on the people.
    2. After gaining strength using the attacks of Israel as a tool to show that they are loyal to the people and can govern effectively.
    3. Bringing a virtue campaign that is (voluntary?).
    4. Imposition of Sharia Law.
    5. Ultimate control.


  13. 17 Chintan in Houston
    July 29, 2009 at 16:19

    I don’t think having a morality court changes my view on any country which is using it as their way of governing their citizens.
    Every country has some kind of laws regarding morality, just because you are not allowed to go topless in US beaches like some in eastern Europe does not make USA a repressive government to civic liberties of women, does it?
    Clothing is not a subject of concern, rather if women were not allowed to drive or go to school/college, vote in democratic held elections that would be considered an oppression of women and violation of their rights.
    Morality checks occur everywhere in ever walks of life because you need checks and balances that are more suited to the lifestyle/culture of a society, and if that was not the case we would never have movies rated as G, PG, PG-13 and R, also there wouldn’t be any music CD’s with covers suggesting ‘Parental Advisory – Explicit Content’.
    So to look at a society that is trying to live as they see fit in a condescending light based on self righteous beliefs of the west is absurd.

  14. 18 VictorK
    July 29, 2009 at 16:24

    @ Linda: Muslims do something and you (again) express your hatred of Christianity, Judaism and ‘all’ religions?

    Hamas is an Islamic party and what it’s doing is perfectly in keeping with Koranic tradition. They were elected and have a mandate for their action (but, of course, believe themselves entitled to do it regardless of a vote, because of its strictly orthodox nature). I’m sorry if any of this comes as a shock to Hamas supporters in the West, who are aways amazed when Muslims behave like Muslims & produce desperate excuses about poverty, oppression & borders.

    Backwards or forwards re how Gaza is governed? But it has nothing to do with governance and everyting to do with ideological purity and the creeping totalitarianism that comes with the claim that every aspect of life can and should be governed by a little book. If it makes the Gazans happy, good: it’s their life to live according to whatever standards, however Pythonesque, they choose.

    p.s. – why are so many of my other posts not making it?

    • 19 Linda from Italy
      July 29, 2009 at 17:16

      Dear Victor, it is not so much religions I hate, but what is done in the name of them, personally I think the ancient Egyptians got it about right seeing cats as divine, I have 30 of them – each one a demigod in its own right!
      I grew up a Catholic (convent school ‘till 12) and the ban on contraception and abortion is, for me, an abuse of men’s power over women. Similarly, some branches of orthodox Judaism treat women as little more than breeding machines and have just as weird rules about clothing as the Taliban et al.
      What I really detest about organised religions is the way they always claim to have all the answers about “life the universe and everything” and, not content to keep it to themselves, insist on imposing it on other people and exploit human vulnerability for their own ends – ultimately power.

  15. 20 patti in cape coral
    July 29, 2009 at 16:29

    It is easy to forget that the Palestinians chose this for themselves when they voted.

    • 21 patti in cape coral
      July 29, 2009 at 16:53

      @ VictorK – I am also having a lot of trouble with my posts today, some finally made it, others disappeared.

  16. 22 Michel Norman
    July 29, 2009 at 16:46

    This must be a joke – how can an organization which holds mass rallies to celebrate the fact that it refuses to honour the Geneva Convention, which has been holding a kidnap victim incognito for three years, refusing him all access to the red cross, which fires thousands of rockets at school children timed to hit them as they go to or leave school, which killed its political rivals by shooting them in hospital beds or by throwing them off buildings, which incited its more powerful neighbour to take military action to stop its incessant rocket fire at civilians, and then deliberately used mosques as arms stores, and civilians as sheilds as it deliberately forced the fighting into densely populated areas, which by its refusal to sign a ceasefire has caused the seige, have any possible connection to claiming to be supportive of morality?????

  17. 23 Anthony
    July 29, 2009 at 16:49

    When will we learn not to intervene, Mulims will do what they want because they are willing to die for (what we consider stupid) things like “laughing in public”. I wonder if the mighty prophet ever laughed in public….hmmmmmmm?

    As long as they are staying in their own areas and doing it, who cares?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  18. July 29, 2009 at 16:51

    Hi WHYSers,

    I am at times amused when people get irked when the fact of the Israeli
    Occupation in Gaza is mentioned. More so when that is not even the main debate of the day. It is very hard to talk of Palestine without a sizeable factoring of Israel and her actions.

    To today’s debate though, Morality watch?!!
    I think Hamas are only compounding the problems of an already hard-pressed people from multiple fronts (Israel included). Furthermore, the more isolationist Hamas becomes from Fatah and the international community, the more it becomes difficult to strike a lasting solution to the whole Palestinian question.
    Like Patti said, it is inexplicably sad that laughing in public is an offence that can land you in trouble.
    Clearly that is not the way to go.

  19. 25 Anthony
    July 29, 2009 at 16:54

    @ steve
    July 29, 2009 at 15:23

    Lol!!! I know, whats up with that, all of that is horrible, but attempting to kill people, especially during a cease fire, that OK. Lol. Don’t forget, we have Muslims who think you should be beaten for drinking beer, but you can grow and sell heroine.

    I guess people like me and you are just “intolerant” and “ignorant”. (Or so I’ve been told when I make statements like these.)

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  20. 26 Anthony
    July 29, 2009 at 17:02

    @ Linda from Italy

    So because they were voted in that means Hamas is good and fair? Last time I checked, the Nazi Party was a political party that was voted in. The fact that they were voted in means nothing.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    • 27 Linda from Italy
      July 29, 2009 at 17:29

      The question should be: .why were the Nazis voted in? Economic meltdown, runaway inflation etc. check out the dying throes of the Weimar Republic. Similarly Mussolini’s rise to power in the 20s in Italy, subsequently consolidated with the support of the Vatican. You can’t pick and choose with democracy, either the people elect or they don’t and if the social situation drives people to elect monsters, of any faith or ideology, that is where the meaning should be sought.

  21. July 29, 2009 at 17:12

    Well, I was never a fan of lingeries and ‘suggestive music’ (what does that mean?) but everyone knows Gaza is no place to visit, anyway.

  22. 29 steve
    July 29, 2009 at 17:23

    People, the only publish ON TOPIC things. I wrote a long winded thing about jewish settlers vs. other settlers and it was not approved. Stay on topic!

  23. 30 tipsylife
    July 29, 2009 at 17:35

    In my country, there is dresscode for men when you are on official duties. You are not allowed to wear jeans and T-shirts in office or open shoes. In some offices it is a must to have a tie. Unlike in some countries too, school uniform for boys and girls is a must. It works ok, even though we do not have strict dress code for women unless its overly provocative. Women in senior positions like magistrates and lawyers have less freedom but are happy with limits set for those offices. So far, no trouble.

    Some measure of morality should be exercised. The right thing is for the Palestinian community to talk openly about moral dress code without excluding their women. They must have mature women who can clealy define the limits.

    All the same there ought to be what is appropriate without reversing the positive gains. Dressing is not a passive thing and ought to disseminate certain information about the wearer.

  24. July 29, 2009 at 17:42

    One should really feel sorry for the Gazans who are surrounded by all sorts of woes from Israeli blockade to Hamas stringent measures. One should really wonder if the Gazans are now really living in a collective prison subjected to all sorts of discipline to keep things apparently in order when the majority are trying to escape for a normal life.

    The most ludicrous aspect is threatening a woman with arrest for laughing “heartily” in public. It seems even feeling openly happy is a crime. Hamas wants people under its authority to feel and look grim not to lose the spirit of resistance. Maybe next time there will be punishment for eye contact between men and women as now there are plans not to allow them to mix in public places and in parties.

  25. 32 Ramesh, India
    July 29, 2009 at 17:54

    ha ha ha! WHYS has objection on my guess as to what could possibily constitute suggestive music!!

  26. 33 gary
    July 29, 2009 at 17:58

    Clothing is not indicative of morality, nor does its total absence lead to immorality. Moral behavior is encouraged when all people are perceived as equals in rights and responsibilities. Hamas’ “Virtue campaign” is merely another “control campaign.” And, as is the case with all such efforts, it’s not about sex; it is about retention of power.

  27. 34 Bert
    July 29, 2009 at 18:00

    Hamas was voted into power. So sure, Gaza gets what Gaza asked for. That’s not the issue, though, in my view. The issue is that this continuing regression by Islamists is not openly condemned by Moslems elsewhere. It’s the tacit approval, implied by lack of internal condemnation, that causes the global dislike and distrust.

    Morality police, apparel police, laughter police, it’s a little beyond the pale, wouldn’t you say? But mostly, from those of the faith, we see silly rationalizations for this continuing trend. Which only makes matters worse.

  28. 35 Nate, Portland OR
    July 29, 2009 at 18:05

    As a guilt-prone liberal American I tend to see the Israel-Palestine issue as disturbing from the perspective of my people’s possible moral culpability for the suffering of the Palestinian people. I want to hereby thank Hamas for making this otherwise complicated issue so simple for me. As long as these inhumane theocratic whack-jobs are the elected representatives of the Palestinian people I can in good conscience shrug my shoulders and look the other way as we help Israel arm itself to the teeth and expand into what should be Palestinian territory.

  29. 37 Vijay
    July 29, 2009 at 18:05

    This is showing the West Bank and Fatah that Gaza may be poor,but they are more virtous,it could also be a way to attract more funding from conservative elements in the Gulf.

  30. 38 steve
    July 29, 2009 at 18:09

    that’s weird, in the US and the west, you are basically free to do what you want. Within semi religious rules. We cannot walk around naked here. YOu cannot be drunk in public. Is it really that different?

  31. 39 Anthony
    July 29, 2009 at 18:12

    @ steve

    I think laughing loudly, and being drunk where people can get violent, break things, and urinate on peoples property (which I have all seen in my city) is a HUGE difference.

  32. 40 Mike in Seattle
    July 29, 2009 at 18:17

    Maybe Hamas should concern itself over making sure everyone has enough water to drink before policing lacy undergarmets and wedding parties.

    • July 29, 2009 at 20:17

      @ mike . Actualy they are doing that, you know fighting for a homeland? Fighting an oppressive barbaric occupation? And actualy that is what landed them the labelled TERRORIST. But then again thats not important. What is important is being outraged about hijabs and underwear.

  33. 42 steve
    July 29, 2009 at 18:17

    seems to me muslim societies that aren’t “occupied” have these problems.

  34. 43 Anthony
    July 29, 2009 at 18:17

    God doesn’t tell people to wear the Hijab, Mohammed did because he didn’t want other men looking at his wives.

    • 44 Maxine
      July 30, 2009 at 07:26

      Spot on Anthony. Anyway, if men can’t control themselves if they see a woman’s hair, or hear her laugh they should be restricted to the home and not allowed into public places.

      • 45 Maxine
        July 31, 2009 at 07:45

        In addition to restricting men to the home for thinking bad thoughts about women, they should get 10 lashes.

  35. 46 Keith
    July 29, 2009 at 18:18

    I am following in the tradition of all the previous posters in being completely off-topic!

    Israelis and Palestinians kill each other ignorantly? Wow, I never could have imagined. Neither group is right, they both have parties that are guilty of killing innocent people, and the fact that either group acts more entitled to something based on their religion is fundamentally wrong.

  36. 47 Frank
    July 29, 2009 at 18:27

    Attempts to rationally discuss issues like this one immediately begin to fail when participants cite that their belief system or ideas of God mandate their position. How are you going to disagree with a fanatic and expect they will rationally consider your point of view? Fanatics of whatever variety are willing slaves of their convictions.

  37. 48 Keith
    July 29, 2009 at 18:29

    As we have discussed in previous topics, Islamic texts mention “modesty”. This is up to interpretation, and any strict rules governing modesty are therefore based on tradition, not religion.

    I will respect your religion, but I do not need to respect your traditions-
    Subjugating women like this is backwards and barbaric. If the accepted argument is that this is a TRADITION, then it shouldn’t be ENFORCED by violent policemen.

  38. 49 Bert
    July 29, 2009 at 20:07

    Vijay, concerning “This is showing the West Bank and Fatah that Gaza may be poor,but they are more virtous,it could also be a way to attract more funding from conservative elements in the Gulf.”

    I’d say it SHOULD be exactly the opposite. It proves, instead, that the people of Gaza need to be spoon-fed “morality,” or whatever interpretation of “mortality” the Hamas men deem important. This is hardly an indication of superior morality of the people.

    Or do you believe, for example, that inmates in prisons are more moral than the rest of us, because they follow a strict regimen day in and day out?

  39. 50 Michel Norman
    July 29, 2009 at 20:53

    Please ask any young ladies from Gaza to exercise extreme caution if they are SMS ing you a response. the latest news out of Gaza today is about a father who killed his daughter for having the lack of morality to own a mobile phone!!

  40. 51 Abram
    July 29, 2009 at 21:13

    What about Christian Palestinians? May be the BBC could invite Palestinian Christians to its LIVE shows — I’ve never heard one!

  41. 52 mike
    July 29, 2009 at 21:21

    I don’t know whether islamicisation or westernisation would be of any consequence in the Hamas versus the West saga. The west still needs to accept the hard fact that the people of Gaza voted Hamas into power and they knew what they were doing. Of course this would play very well into the hands of bigots whose hands itch to tighten the screws of suffering on the ordinary Palestinian.

  42. 53 Jennifer
    July 29, 2009 at 22:45

    Re: Women of Gaza virtue reality

    From the article:

    Abdullah Abu Jarbou, the deputy religious affairs minister, said: “We have to encourage people to be virtuous and keep them away from sin.”

    You know what really ticks me off? Your title says nothing about MEN OF VIRTUE!

    Or is this campaign just for women? If so, WHY ARE THEY PICKING ON WOMEN?!

    Hamas is a terrorist organization that is interested in the domination and spread of Islam.

    Islam subjugates women and treats them like property.

  43. 54 scmehta
    July 30, 2009 at 08:20

    What about their own virtues? I wish the Hammas had done some introspection on that.

  44. 55 Roberto
    July 30, 2009 at 12:10

    RE “” Israel still occupies Gaza and continues to restrict the flow of humanitarian aid into the Palestinian province. “”

    ———– Thought this was supposed to be a serious blog and not a spot to spin porkies and fiddle fibs.

    Gaza shares a border with Egypt and neither Egypt nor Israel occupy Gaza. That’s just some silly made up nonsense.

    The pics of the thread show very well fed and well laundered Palestinian women holding what seems to be nice fresh signage, not poor bedraggled starving Palestinians. If there are Palestinians suffering, perhaps they should look to their leadership who seems more concerned with imposing archaic dress codes than tending to the structure of effective governance of the people.

    Maybe these women could at very least start a dinner and washing cooperative that assists Palestinians in looking so well fed, well laundered, and happy.

  45. July 30, 2009 at 15:31

    I’m sure any free thinkers in Gaza will be overjoyed at the new suggestions(soon to become law). Welcome to the darkness! And I have to agree with Linda from Italy, especially he last paragraph of her 17.16 post of the 29th.

  46. August 1, 2009 at 12:30

    The idea that by declaring war on lifestyles that do damage to noone you improve the human condition has been proved erroneous historically. Lifestyles are the fruit of a certain tree. You cant expect them to change if the tree does not. I do not see a new tree being planted in Gaza. I see a pruning of the old one with no expectation of new fruit. I see new wine in old wineskins.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: