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June 16, 2014 6:49 pm

Egyptian Arab Writer Says Awakening to Horror of Hamas; No Longer Sees Movement As Force for Good

avatar by Joshua Levitt

A Hamas festival in Gaza. Photo: WikiCommons.

A Hamas festival in Gaza. Photo: WikiCommons.

Ahmed Abdel-Raheem, an Egyptian Arab poet, writer and doctoral student, said that a chance meeting with a fearful Gazan from Khan Yunis, who related the horrors his family suffered at the hands of Hamas, definitively soured his impression of the militant political party now in a unity government with former rival Fatah.

Writing in The Commentator, Abdel-Raheem said: “As an Arab, when I heard about the Fatah-Hamas unity government, I was happy and saw this as positive. In fact, like many in the Arab world, I had always thought that Hamas was a force for good and represents a majority of the Palestinian people.”

“However, my eyes were opened via a chance meeting I had recently with a Palestinian from Khan Yonis who related some horrible stories that disclosed to me a dark side of Hamas that had not been visible to me,” he wrote.

His reluctant source pleaded for Abdel-Raheem not to write about what he was being told. The young man said, “Please don’t write about what I told you; please don’t write anything; Hamas reads everything in the news, and has a very strong intelligence body; they even spy on us; it is not difficult at all for them to know what they want to know; if they know me, they will kill not only me but also my whole family; they’re real criminals.”

He told Abdel-Raheem “that Hamas had killed four people (a physician, a judge, an engineer, and a lawyer) from his family, who were semi-opponents of the group. ‘Hamas broke into our houses using heavy weapons; Hamas militants invaded us like tartars and we were like orphans with no power at all to resist; they killed many of us.'”

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Abdel-Raheem wrote: “I was shocked to hear this and became even more shocked to learn how Hamas won the parliamentary elections in 2006. According to my interlocutor, before the elections, Hamas got rid of all opposing heads of families, and imposed its full control on the people. ‘If someone just thinks of protesting, Hamas gets them killed,’ he added.”

The source described how, at the start of the Arab Spring, a neighbor “saw some hope of change and wanted to protest against Hamas and its dictatorial rule.” The Khan Yunis resident said, “Once one young man from our district agreed to whistle from inside his house in a sign of protest against Hamas; but the group knew about him; they brought him to one of their headquarters and began torturing and humiliating him.”

“Hamas is not that easy and kind as you think; oh, really you have no idea what Hamas is,” the man told Abdel-Raheem.

The Egyptian scholar’s conclusion is that “the real problem is not just between Hamas and Fatah. Rather, it is between Hamas and the people. Importantly, if the people really don’t want Hamas, any Palestinian unity government will be meaningless. This disconnect between the people and the regime that rules over them applies all across the Arab world, regardless of the ideological basis of the regime in question.”

He drew analogies to flawed elections in Egypt and Syria where dissent is criminalized making elections worthless.

In the end, he said, people will “move like a volcano against the dictatorship. This is the most important lesson from Egypt’s January 25 Revolution. Put another way, power is the people, and the people is power.”

The article was published on Thursday, before the kidnapping of three Jewish yeshiva students that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pinned on Hamas. Israeli search parties are now in their fourth day of looking for the abducted teens.

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