As a leading liberation movement preparing for the day when all Gazan’s will be free, the Hamas government has banned women from being passengers on motorcycles. According to Asharq Al-Awsat, “the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper”:
The Hamas government has banned motorcycle riders from carrying women on the back seat — the latest in the militants’ virtue campaign in Gaza. The ban was posted on Hamas Interior Ministry Web site on Tuesday. It says the ban seeks “to preserve citizen safety and the stability of Palestinian society’s customs and traditions.”
Reports have surfaced of offenders being beaten or arrested, according to the paper. The article also notes other recent pronouncements compelling female lawyers to wear hijabs in court and banning mixed-sex couples from enjoying the beach together. Beaches, of course, aren’t much fun for women these days since Hamas banned bikinis. Did someone mention fun? Hamas policemen arrest women for ‘laughing in public’ anyway!
Previously Hamas has banned or tried to ban music festivals, musicians and several daily newspapers. And pornographic websites. And folk tales. And outdoor prayers (well, for the wrong sort of people). And, um, weddings!
And don’t think of protesting any of this – protests are banned too.
I wonder if there will ever be calls to “Free! Free! Palestine!” from Hamas … or whether we’ll simply have to redefine what freedom means.