Apr 6, 2006

Hamas loves Jesus

Bellydancers, on the other hand, not so much. Attallah Abu al-Sibbah, Hamas' new culture minister sets priorities.
"If the phenomenon of bellydancing spreads our people might react against it by killing people. We don't want our people to become like the Taliban."

While foreign governments are exercised over Hamas's views on Israel, the Islamist party says its primary agenda is domestic reform. It was elected amid a backlash against corruption and maladministration, and is committed to cleaning up government.

But it also says it intends to clean up society, and that is Mr Sibbah's job. For a start he will ban casinos and see if there is a way to ban the sale of alcohol. He also wants segregation of men and women in places of public entertainment and an end to what he sees as rampant "nakedness".
Sibbah, it seems, is something of a movie buff: "Titanic was a good film, a human film." He'd like to reopen some movie theaters in Gaza that were closed during the first intifada. Of course, he'd screen them first, but that's no big deal: "This is normal. Every country has censors."

Sibbah is keen to set Hamas apart from other religious nuts running Islamic nations, specifically the Taliban.
"We're not the Taliban. We love Jesus. We love Moses," he said, before summoning a Christian worker at the ministry to demonstrate his good intentions.

Abuline Darsi duly arrived, head uncovered and a silver crucifix dangling from her neck.

"She's our sister," said Mr Sibbah. "She's our employee here. We're not going to do anything bad to her."

Ms Darsi shuffled awkwardly. Was she concerned when Hamas came to power? "A little bit, as a Christian. Now it's changed. Now I've met the minister," she said, and darted off.

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