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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Al-Guardian blames Israel for Hamas' religious repression

Gaza is clearly moving in the direction of becoming a strict Islamist Caliphate like Iran and Saudi Arabia, and al-Guardian's Ben White knows who's to blame: Israel, of course.
But why is this happening now? One answer is that these developments in Gaza are a consequence of the state of siege that the tiny territory has been under – a society that has been fenced-in, starved, and seen its very fabric torn apart by unemployment and wanton military destruction. In the words of a Gaza human rights worker, isolation bred "extremism and dark ideas".

Eyad Sarraj, a prominent Gazan mental health expert and psychiatrist, noted that Hamas is focusing on the likes of "women's dress" and "segregation of the sexes, especially in public or in schools". Rather than prioritising "honesty or financial probity", the obsession is with "sex", because "these things are visible and people are easily intimidated because such issues address their traditional anxieties".

Albert Memmi wrote in The Coloniser and the Colonised the way in which the colonised can seek "refuge" in religion, offering individuals "one of the rare paths of retreat", and the group "one of the rare manifestations which can protect its original existence". It is similar to an observation made by the director of Jerusalem's Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling to CNN, that in "societies suffering from long-term military conflict … 'religion and traditions become more important' and are frequently 'used to oppress'".

The move towards a more firm imposition of conservative Islamist values comes as Hamas is making a keen effort to reach out to the international community. The movement's leaders, both in Palestine and abroad, have repeatedly stressed Hamas would accept a two-state solution on the 1967 borders, and indeed, would respect a negotiated political solution should the deal be endorsed in a referendum by the Palestinian people.

Already hit by criticism in Gaza by Islamic Jihad about a theoretical willingness to negotiate with Israel, it is possible that Hamas's leaders are seeking to safeguard its credibility and among the radical jihadist groups by off-balancing improving international relations with a domestic hard line.

The trend in Gaza is also a reflection of the limitations of Hamas's political vision and the fact that within the Hamas "tent", there have always been those who place as high a premium on the transformation of society as they do on national liberation. With one eye on western perceptions, the new "cultural" – rather than military – resistance could be feeding into the Islamisation emphasis, with Hamas seeking to maintain its distinctiveness and shape public discourse.

Israel has been in conflict with the surrounding Arab states and the 'Palestinians' for the last 60 years and our society hasn't become repressive like Gaza's. On the other hand, Muslims carry out honor killings in the United States where there are no wars and no 'siege.'

This sounds to me more like yet another excuse to bash Israel.


At 1:13 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

If Hamas truly wanted to change it could. But it won't. That's the point overlooked by Westerners.

At 3:10 PM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

This is the type of unadulterated rubbish produced when a secular leftist writing for The Guardian views Islam through the prism of western psychoanalysis.

I await the next article suggesting that the fanatical Jew-hatred endemic to Hamas is actually a manifestation of the leaders' repressed psychosexual anxieties.

What a maroon.


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