Ha­mas slams the Ra­mal­lah dance fes­ti­val as ‘depraved’

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY BEN LYN­FIELD JERUSALEM

A HA­MAS-AF­FIL­I­ATED ju­rist has con­demned a dance fes­ti­val now un­der way in Ra­mal­lah as sac­ri­le­gious and cau­tioned that it could cause Pales­tinian young men needed to fight Is­rael to be­come ef­fem­i­nate.

Mar­wan Abu Ras, chair­man of the league of Is­lamic ulama, or schol­ars, in Gaza, said in re­marks car­ried by Ha­mas’s Pales­tinian In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre web­site that the Ra­mal­lah Con­tem­po­rary Dance Fes­ti­val “is more than for­bid­den”.

It is the first time Ha­mas has con­demned the fes­ti­val, one of the main an­nual cul­tural events in the West Bank.

It high­lights how bit­ter re­la­tions re- main be­tween the Is­lamic Move­ment that con­trols Gaza and its largely sec­u­lar Fatah ri­val in the West Bank, al­most a year af­ter Ha­mas seized com­plete con­trol over the coastal strip.

“This is more than for­bid­den be­cause it presents us as sat­is­fied with all mat­ters and that noth­ing re­mains for us ex­cept learn­ing li­cen­tious­ness and im­pu­dent art,” Mr Abu Ras said. “This is more than for­bid­den be­cause it is tak­ing place at a time when the sons of the Pales­tinian peo­ple are be­ing killed and its holy places Ju­daised.”

The ban is sym­bolic only since the Is­lamic group’s writ does not ex­tend to the West Bank. Troupes have come from Nor­way, Italy, Ser­bia, France, Ger­many and Spain to per­form along­side the lo­cal Pales­tinian El-Fu­noun group.

The lat­ter de­voted its per­for­mance Satur­day night to an adap­ta­tion to dance of car­toons of the widely pop­u­lar Pales­tinian car­i­ca­tur­ist Naji al-Ali, who was as­sas­si­nated in Lon­don in 1989.

Mr Abu Ras said: “The na­tion is not in need of dance, it is in need of re­sis­tance and of com­mit­ted men car­ry­ing ri­fles. It is not in need of men danc­ing along­side women on the pre­text that this serves the na­tional cause.” He termed the fes­ti­val “morally depraved” and warned that it would “cause [male] youths to be­come ef­fem­i­nate”.

Com­ment­ing on the Ha­mas re­ac­tion, fes­ti­val co­or­di­na­tor Joyce Hana­nia told the JC: “We are up­set about it. They just don’t un­der­stand.”

PHOTO: NIDA HA­JALI /QATAMESH

The El-Fu­noun Dance Troupe per­forms the pro­duc­tion A Let­ter To... at this year’s event in the West Bank town

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