Dr. Ahmed Yousef is Deputy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Gaza and the Former Senior Political Adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza. I interviewed him last year in Gaza City and he was a pretty Westernised man. His latest piece challenges the impression that “Talibanisation” has arrived in Gaza under Hamas rule:
To accuse Hamas of marketing fundamentalism and extremism in the Gaza Strip is false and inaccurate. There is no “Talibanization” of Gaza. Such a claim is based on Israeli propaganda and the deliberately distorted accounts of those in Gaza who are politically and ideologically opposed to the government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. It is true that some individuals in the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs have acted in an overzealous or misguided manner driven by their own concern to preserve what they see as the culture of the community; but their actions were not done on the basis of any governmental decision or a ministerial policy. In fact on a number of occasions the government directly intervened to reverse their misguided actions.
Palestinian society is inherently a conservative society, where the values that govern people’s lives are mostly pure Islamic. The proper way to correct the kind of public behavior that can threaten those values is to address them through the existing educational frameworks of the family and the mosque.
Unfortunately, the combination of the Israeli misinformation campaign and the misguided actions of a few overzealous individuals who see themselves as the guardians of public morality provides the Western media with the kind of stories that feed the common stereotypes they have of Islamists. Hamas is portrayed as being a fundamentalist and extremist movement that intends to launch an Islamic emirate in the Gaza Strip!