In the past week or so, police in Gaza City are cracking down on what they believe is a scourge of sacrilegious young men based on some pretty questionable criteria: fancy hair styles and fashionable pants. The Associated Press just published a report on how Hamas is taking their mission to impose strict Islamic practices on the people and says the police are literally "grabbing young men with long or gel-styled spiky hair off the streets, bundling them into jeeps, mocking them and shaving their heads." Apparently, too-tight jeans or low-waisted pants will also get you nabbed. It's no fun. "The only thing I want to do is leave this country," said Ayman al-Sayed, a 19--year-old Gaza resident who was abducted last week. "I am scared. They just take you from the street without reason. I don't know what they are going to do next."
Human rights groups obviously aren't thrilled about this new practice, but there might not be anything they can do to stop it. Hamas has been escalating its campaign to transform Palestinian society into something that looks more like Iran than it does the Gaza Strip. Last week, we learned that Hamas was splitting up schools by gender to better conform to strict Islamic standards. The law goes into effect at the beginning of next school year, but they're not exactly being transparent about these efforts. Zeinab al-Ghoneimi, a woman's civil rights advocate, told Reuters last week, "Instead of hiding behind traditions, why don't they say clearly they are Islamists and they want to Islamise the community."
Unfortunately, the list goes on. Hamas has kept women from competing in sporting events and are trying to force women to cover themselves with burqas, though there's been a lot of pushback on that front. With the looming threat of being kidnapped and beaten, young men will probably think twice about what they wear, now, too.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.