Magazine article The Christian Century

Hamas to Use Shari'a as Governing Basis; Churches Urge Peace

Magazine article The Christian Century

Hamas to Use Shari'a as Governing Basis; Churches Urge Peace

Article excerpt

Hamas intends to apply Islamic law, or shari'a, as the basis for running the Palestinian Authority after its landslide win in the late January elections for the legislature, officials from the group said. But they added that people would not be forced to comply with shari'a.

The victory of the militant group in the elections has stirred concerns by more liberal Palestinians that the Islamist group might enforce its views after defeating Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's secular Fatah movement.

Nevertheless, Anglican bishop Riah Abu El-Assal joined 12 other Christian leaders in Jerusalem in a January 31 statement congratulating the Palestinian people "for their democratic performance in the recent parliamentary elections." The group, which includes patriarchs and heads of church bodies, also prayed for "all those who will govern in this difficult period" that they may be committed to "justice and peace."

Sheik Mohammed Abu Teir, who was second on the list of Hamas candidates, has said that Hamas wants shari'a to be applied to more facets of life in the Palestinian Authority; he would, for example, seek to separate boys and girls at schools and introduce a more Islamic curriculum.

"Why do we have immorality in the West?" Abu Teir said in comments to reporters. "Isn't it because of coeducation? Our society is conservative, and when we separate, we bring these children up in such a way that we keep our society clean. The highest levels of sexual perversion are found in the West."

Hamas, sworn to Israel's destruction, seeks to establish a strict Islamic state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and on the ruins of Israel. …

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