There Is No Fun In Islam* Alert from the burgeoning Islamic republic in Gaza: “Some Gaza women smolder over Hamas’ water-pipe ban,” by Diaa Hadid and Ibrahim Barzak for Associated Press, July 18 (thanks to all who sent this in):
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – There are few pleasures left for Gaza’s 1.5 million people, squeezed by both a blockade and Hamas efforts to impose its strict Muslim lifestyle. And women here just lost another one.
Gaza’s Hamas rulers have banned women from smoking water pipes in cafes, sending plainclothes agents through popular beachside spots Sunday to enforce the edict. Some women in the Palestinian territory are grumbling.
“This is silly,” said Haya Ahmed, a 29-year-old accountant who said she has smoked water pipes for 10 years. “We are not smoking in the streets but in restaurants, where only a few people can enter.”
She predicted the ban would actually make water pipes more tempting for rebellious young women. “Everything forbidden becomes desirable. The decision will lead to more smokers,” Ahmed said.
Many Gazans pile into beach cafes in the evenings to puff on water pipes well into the wee hours of the morning. Islamic law does not ban women from smoking the traditional tobacco-infused pipes, but many frown upon the practice.
The water pipe restrictions are just the latest in a yearlong Hamas campaign to gradually enforce a strict Muslim life code on the people of Gaza — many of whom are conservative Muslims themselves and not entirely opposed. But the secular minority feels the crunch. […]
Last year, a 23-year-old man was interrogated for a week over rumors he was gay. He requested anonymity for fear of further reprisals. In another case, the New York-based Human Rights Watch reported that a gay man was held in a Gaza jail.
Ghussein, the Interior Ministry spokesman, denied claims they were trying to coerce Gazans into adopting a strictly Islamic lifestyle.
“If we wanted to make Gaza like the Taliban, then we could have done that very easily,” Ghussein said.
Looks as if you’re well on your way, Ghussein.
* The Ayatollah Khomeini said that.