Just how far will Hamas push the Strip?

Ben White in the Guardian on the growing Islamisation of Gaza:

But why is this happening now? One answer is that these developments in Gaza are a consequence of the state of siege that the tiny territory has been under – a society that has been fenced-in, starved, and seen its very fabric torn apart by unemployment and wanton military destruction. In the words of a Gaza human rights worker, isolation bred “extremism and dark ideas”.

Eyad Sarraj, a prominent Gazan mental health expert and psychiatrist, noted that Hamas is focusing on the likes of “women’s dress” and “segregation of the sexes, especially in public or in schools”. Rather than prioritising “honesty or financial probity”, the obsession is with “sex”, because “these things are visible and people are easily intimidated because such issues address their traditional anxieties”.

Albert Memmi wrote in The Coloniser and the Colonised the way in which the colonised can seek “refuge” in religion, offering individuals “one of the rare paths of retreat”, and the group “one of the rare manifestations which can protect its original existence”. It is similar to an observation made by the director of Jerusalem’s Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling to CNN, that in “societies suffering from long-term military conflict ”¦ ‘religion and traditions become more important’ and are frequently ‘used to oppress'”.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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