Hamas accused the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday of “waging war on Islam and
Allah” by detaining and firing hundreds of imams and banning the recitation of
the Koran over loudspeakers on mosques.
The allegation followed a series
of measures taken by the PA against Hamas supporters and institutions in the
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It also came in response to the PA government’s decision to
ban mosques from broadcasting recitations of the Koran ahead of the call to
prayer by the muezzin – a practice that has existed for decades.
said the decision to ban the Koran recitation had been taken at the request of
Jewish settlers who complained about the loud noise from the
“We warn the Fatah authority in Ramallah against waging war on
religious people and institutions in the West Bank,” read a statement issued by
Hamas. “Those who are waging this war on Islam and Allah will have to bear the
consequences of their actions.”
Hamas sources said the PA’s Ministry for
Wakf (Islamic trust) Affairs had shut down hundreds of centers for teaching the
Koran in the West Bank over the past few months. The centers used to operate
inside mosques, which are directly controlled by the ministry.
security officials said the centers were being used as bases and meeting places
for Hamas supporters.
Hamas, on the other hand, said the centers had
functioned as schools for teaching young men and women to recite the Koran by
Hamas also accused the PA of firing hundreds of mosque imams under
the pretext that they were affiliated with the Islamist movement.
this week, the PA government issued an order banning Sheikh Hamed Bittawi, a
senior representative of Hamas in the West Bank and a leading Islamic scholar,
from delivering sermons during Friday prayers.
Bittawi, who has
frequently criticized the PA government’s policies in his sermons, said the
decision to ban him from delivering sermons was tantamount to a “declaration of
war on Allah.”
The PA security forces recently arrested two of his sons
on suspicion of supporting Hamas.
The sheikh, meanwhile, said he was not
the only preacher who had been affected by the ban.
preachers in the West Bank have also been prohibited from addressing the
believers during Friday prayers in the mosques,” Bittawi said. “The government
in Ramallah wants only yes-men as preachers.”
The PA has also banned
Sheikh Nayef Rajoub, the former PA minister for Wakf affairs from Hamas, from
addressing worshipers at mosques. He is the brother of former Fatah security
commander Jibril Rajoub.
Current PA Minister for Wakf Affairs Mahmoud
Habbash, a former Hamas representative who was expelled from the movement
several years ago, defended the crackdown on the preachers and imams by saying
that his government had built 90 mosques in the West Bank in the past
“They are accusing us of waging war on Islam?” Habbash asked. “We
built mosques and taught many people the Koran. We also trained many imams and
Koran-readers. Unlike Hamas, we didn’t fire rockets at mosques and kill children
and the elderly inside mosques.”