Gaza Female Telecasters Must Dress Up or Die

An Islamist vice squad in Gaza has threatened to behead female broadcasters on PA TV unless they dress in accordance with religious standards.

Hana Levi Julian,

The “Swords of Truth”, an Islamist vice squad responsible for bombing dozens of internet cafes, music shops, pool halls and at least two restaurants in Gaza, has now turned its attention to female TV broadcasters.

The group warned in a statement e-mailed to worldwide media Friday that it would behead female TV broadcasters in the Palestinian Authority who do not dress in strict accordance with religious Islamic standards.

“We will cut throats, and from vein to vein, if needed to protect the spirit and moral of this nation,” said the statement, which also called declared that female broadcasters are “without any…shame or morals.”

Female TV broadcasters in many Muslim countries wear headscarves and modest clothing. In some Arab countries, women are not allowed to broadcast at all.

This is the first time the Gaza terrorist organization has targeted a specific population. Until now, the Swords of Truth group has confined its activities to the destruction of places they consider to be venues of “immoral” activity.

Female broadcasters who were interviewed by the Associated Press (AP) said they had received death threats in calls to their cell phones. Many were frightened.

One PA anchorwoman said she did not go to work on Saturday as a result. “It’s a dangerous precedent in our society,” she said. “It will target all working women.” The journalist, who does not wear a headscarf, requested anonymity, fearing retribution.

The Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC), which is funded by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction, said it was taking the threat seriously and had implemented security measures. PBC head Basem Abu Sumaya said, however, the company, which runs PA TV, could not protect broadcasters on their way to and from work.

Foreign Journalists Avoid On-site Coverage in Gaza

Gaza has become an increasingly hazardous place for journalists to ply their trade, with the Foreign Press Association warning its members several months ago to avoid entering Gaza when at all possible.

The last foreign journalist to maintain a full-time bureau office in Gaza City was British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) reporter Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped at gunpoint March 12. Mr. Johnston had not been seen or heard from until last week, when he appeared in a video clip on an internet website frequently used by Muslim terrorists. The 45-year-old Scottish national appeared on the Islamist al-Ekhlaas website in a video clip bearing the Army of Islam logo. There is no way to know when the tape was made, however. Hundreds of journalists in and outside the Palestinian Authority have held demonstrations to protest the BBC reporter's abduction.

A number of other network news reporters have also been kidnapped within the past year.

Sixty-year-old American Steve Centanni and his 36-year-old cameraman Olaf Wiig of New Zealand were held for two weeks by a Hamas-linked group called the Holy Jihad Brigades. In an interview an hour after being freed, the two Fox News journalists said they had been forced at gunpoint to convert to Islam and also to tape a video they did not want to tape.

Associated Press photographer Emilio Morenatti, an Italian national, was kidnapped in October 2006, also in Gaza City and released unharmed 15 hours later.

Prior to Alan Johnston’s abduction, a 50-year-old Peruvian photographer with the French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) was abducted by masked gunmen in January. The hostage, Jaime Razuri, was released a week later.