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Friday, September 28, 2007

Abu Mazen goes Islamic

There's more proof this evening that the 'secular' Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen is no different than the Islamic Hamas. Abu Mazen has deployed his police morality police to 'detain' people seen eating in public during Ramadamadan.
The 12-member squad with special red badges appears to be an attempt by PA President Mahmoud Abbas's West Bank government to challenge the claim of rival Hamas, the ruler of Gaza, to a monopoly on religious righteousness.

Islamic custom demands that believers fast and refrain from self-indulgence between sunrise and sunset during Ramadan, which this year began Sept. 13. Across the Muslim world, the fast is largely observed, though in some countries compliance is voluntary and in others, including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, it's strictly enforced.

In Ramallah, the seat of Abbas's West Bank government, the deployment this year of a Ramadan police seemed somewhat unexpected. Ramallah is the most cosmopolitan and well-to-do of the Palestinian cities.

However, Lt. Murad Qendah of the vice squad said he's been assigned to stamp out public breaches.

"If anybody violates this respect publicly in the street, we take their identity papers and hold them for investigation," said Qendah, 27, who led a six-man squad on patrol one recent afternoon.

While observing worshippers arriving at one of the town's main mosques, Qendah received a radio call telling him a suspect has been spotted imbibing "karoub" - a traditional local soft drink made from carob pods - in the street. He ordered the man's papers seized, pending investigation. Police say violators are usually held for 24 hours.


Ironically in Gaza, where Hamas has set up its own administration to rival with Abbas's West Bank-based government, no such patrol is active.

In addition to booking smokers, snackers and carob-juice drinkers, Qendah is also on the alert for young men whistling at girls or drivers playing their car stereos at excessive volume.

Police spokesman Adnan al-Damari said police arrested at least 50 alleged public morality offenders in Ramallah since the start of Ramadan, but would not be going after fast-breakers in their own homes.

"The duty of the morality police is to preserve public manners in public places, and to preserve the feelings of the people who are fasting," he said. "Violating the holiness of Ramadan is a violation of people's freedom."
But keep telling yourself Fatah is different than Hamas, Ehud.


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