Religion and CultureFurther information: Islamization of the Gaza Strip
From 1987 to 1991, during the first intifada, Hamas campaigned for the wearing of the hijab alongside other measures, including insisting women stay at home be segregated from men, and the promotion of polygamy. In the course of this campaign women who chose not to wear the hijab were verbally and physically harassed, with the result that the hijab was being worn 'just to avoid problems on the streets'.
Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, attempts have been made to impose Islamic dress and require women to wear the Hijab head covering. Also, the government’s "Islamic Endowment Ministry" has deployed Virtue Committee members to warn citizens of the dangers of immodest dress, card playing and dating. However, there are no government laws imposing dress and other moral standards, and the Hamas education ministry reversed one effort to impose Islamic dress on students. There has also been successful resistance to attempts by local Hamas officials to impose Islamic dress on women.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Hamas-controlled government stepped up its efforts to "Islamize" Gaza in 2010, efforts it says included the "repression of civil society" and "severe violations of personal freedom."
Palestinian researcher Dr. Khaled Al-Hroub has criticized what he called the "Taliban-like steps" Hamas has taken. He wrote, "The Islamization that has been forced upon the Gaza Strip – the suppression of social, cultural, and press freedoms that do not suit Hamas's view – is an egregious deed that must be opposed. It is the reenactment, under a religious guise, of the experience of totalitarian regimes and dictatorships.
Hamas officials denied having any plans to impose Islamic law, one legislator stating that “What you are seeing are incidents, not policy,” and that Islamic law is the desired standard "but we believe in persuasion.”
In October 2012, Gaza youth complained that their freedom to wear saggy paints and have haircuts of their own choosing had been obstructed by security officers, and faced being arrested. Youth in Gaza are also mocked for wearing shorts and showing their legs, which have been described by youth as embarrassing incidents, and one youth explained that "My saggy pants did not harm anyone." However, a spokesman for Gaza's Ministry of Interior denied such a campaign, and denied interfering in the lives of Gaza citizens, but explained that "maintaining the morals and values of the Palestinian society is highly required."
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