Hamas is taking another step towards the full implementation of strict Islamic Sharia law in Gaza, and is planning to introduce a penalty of lashes for certain criminal offenses.
Nafez Al-Madhoun, the secretary of Hamas’s parliament in Gaza, said on Tuesday that the government is working on passing a new law pertaining to lashes. Speaking in an interview with a local newspaper, Madhoun said that the provisions of the new law will include a range of between 80 lashes for major offenses to 20 lashes for minor crimes.
Madhoun further explained that a change in the Penal Code to include lashes is required, in light of the reality where the current law does not deter criminals, who view the Gaza prisons as a place for a vacation.
He also noted that the lashes can accumulate depending on the number of offenses of which the defendant was convicted in court. If the convicted criminal’s life may be in danger due to the lashes, they may be done in several batches.
Hamas has enforced a stringent interpretation of Islamic law in Gaza since violently taking power there in 2007.
The group has banned women and teenagers from smoking hookahs in public, ordered that women's clothing stores are not allowed to have dressing rooms, men cannot have hairdressing salons for women and that mannequins shaped like women must be dressed in modest clothing.
The group also introduced a strict dress code for female university students, demanding that they wear “modest clothing”.
Last year the Hamas government banned residents of Gaza from participating in the national reality singing show “New Star”, which follows the same format as popular U.S. shows “American Idol” and “The X-Factor.”
Hamas claimed the program was “indecent,” adding it contradicts the customs and traditions of the Gaza community.
Despite Hamas’s moves, the extremist Salafists in Gaza say that Hamas is not strict enough for their liking. The Salafists hope to wrest control of Gaza from Hamas and install a Sharia-bound regime instead.