In the two-plus years Hamas has been running Gaza, a process of "creeping Shariah-ism" has been ongoing,
According to the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, the new requirement is part of a general "Morals List" that Hamas is seeking to impose on Gaza.
When Hamas first violently took over Gaza in 2007, the Islamist terror group said it was doing so to improve the health and welfare of Gaza Arabs, who had suffered because of the corruption of the Fatah-headed Palestinian Authority. And, although it was an Islamist group, Hamas said it was not necessarily interested in forcing Gaza Arabs to become devout Muslims.
In an interview with Canada's Globe and Mail shortly after the Hamas takeover, senior Hamas terrorist Sheikh Mohammed Abu Tir said the group would push for Muslim religious law, known as Shariah, as the "source" for new legislation, and that it would separate boys and girls in the Gaza school system. However, he said, Hamas would not force Gazans to abide by Islamic law; alcohol would not be banned, he said, and women would not be forced to wear religious head coverings outdoors.
But in the two-plus years that the terror group has been running Gaza, a process of "creeping Shariah-ism" has been ongoing, observers say, as Hamas has been slowly but surely incorporating more of its Islamist agenda into the daily lives of Gaza Arabs. In the latest example, reports from Gaza over the weekend said, Hamas plans to demand that women wear head coverings in public.
According to the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper, the new requirement is part of a general "Morals List" that Hamas is seeking to impose on Gaza. Other measures will prevent the display of female mannequins in store windows, "improper driving near women" - which the paper took to mean honking at attractive women as they walked down the street – and prohibiting men and women from mixing at crowded public events where it was likely they would come into contact with each other.
Although Hamas has long employed "morals squads" to enforce Islamic strictures among the Gaza population – sometimes violently – this marks the first time Hamas will attempt to formally legislate proper Islamic behavior. As recently as several weeks ago, Hamas denied that it had implemented a rule demanding that women in Gaza courts wear dresses and cover their hair completely, as a Gaza attorneys group charged.
But Hamas has implemented Islamic law in several areas that do not attempt to determine the daily behavior of average Gazans. The most infamous of this is the implementation of crucifixion for "enemies of Islam," who undermine the religious integrity of Islamic society by preaching against the religion or enticing Muslims to convert, according to Newsmax.com. Other punishments approved by Hamas include cutting off the hands of thieves and lashing traders who sell wine, the Jerusalem Post reported – both punishments described in the Quran.
Last month, a report in Yediot Acharonot said that Hamas was now deducting a percentage of the salaries of PA employees in Gaza – in line with another Koran law requiring salaried workers to support Islamic studies. Also last month, another report said, Hamas police detained a young woman who was walking along a Gaza beach with friends. The woman, who was in a group with another woman and three men, was arrested, while the men were beaten for violating Islamic "moral sensibilities."