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April 3, 2013 2:06 pm

Hamas to Enforce Gender Segregation in Gaza Schools

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Women wearing the Hamas headband. Photo: Kimdime.

Hamas has approved a new law in Gaza that will ban men from teaching in girls’ schools and enforce gender segregation past the age of nine. The law was approved by Hamas’s Education Ministry Monday and will go into effect in the next school year.

“We are a Muslim people. We do not need to make people Muslims, and we are doing what serves our people and their culture,” Waleed Mezher, the Hamas Education Ministry’s legal adviser, told Reuters.

Since most Hamas-run schools in Gaza are already gender segregated, the decision will most affect Christian and private schools.  Human rights activists voiced criticism regarding the new measure.

“Instead of hiding behind traditions, why don’t they say clearly they are Islamists and they want to Islamise the community,” Zeinab Al-Ghoneimi, a Gaza activist for women’s rights said.

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Hamas, a terrorist organization that has ruled the Gaza Strip since a bloody coup against its Palestinian rival group Fatah in 2007, has increasingly implemented strict Islamic laws in the coastal enclave, including banning alcohol and placing restrictions on women.

Early last month, the Gaza Marathon was canceled by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), an agency in charge of Palestinian refugee affairs in Gaza, after Hamas banned women from competing.

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