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Fashion show in Christian village outrages Muslims
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
24/06/2010
Hamas figure calls event ‘immoral,’ denounces PA for sponsorship and attendance.
 
A fashion show for Palestinian girls held this week in the Christian town of Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem, under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority has drawn strong condemnations from Hamas and other Palestinian factions.

Sheikh Hamed Bittawi, a top Hamas political figure in the West Bank, condemned the show as “immoral” and said it violated Islamic values and laws.

Bittawi called it “unsuitable for a people that lives under occupation, has 12,000 prisoners [in Israeli prisons] and has sacrificed tens of thousands of people,” and ruled that such events were considered by Islam to be a fahisha, or major sin.

He also condemned the PA government for allowing the event to take place and for sponsoring it.

The PA was represented at fashion show, which was part of a graduation ceremony for fashion designers, by Tourism Minister Kholoud Daibes. The event was also attended by Majeda al- Masri, minister for social welfare, and Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh.

Several other Hamas officials launched a scathing attack on PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for supporting the fashion show, and accused them of spreading “moral corruption” in the West Bank.

A Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip noted that the show coincided with the Jerusalem Municipality’s decision to demolish more than 20 Arab-owned houses in the city’s Silwan section.

Late last year, the PA called off a Miss Palestine beauty contest that was supposed to be held in Ramallah following strong protests from Hamas and many Palestinians. About 60 young women were supposed to participate in the contest, half of them Israeli Arabs.

The women who appeared in the Beit Sahour fashion show did not wear swim suits or bikinis, but that did not prevent Hamas and many Palestinian groups and individuals from condemning the event as “morally corrupt.” Palestinian Web sites have since been flooded with talkbacks denouncing the show and attacking both the PA and the Bethlehem- area Christian community for holding it.

“Wherever there are Christians there’s moral decline,” charged a reader from the Gaza Strip on one of the sites.

“Were it not for the presence of Muslims in Palestine, Palestine would have become like Paris – one big brothel.”

Another reader from the Gaza Strip complained: “Shame on you Muslims and Christians in the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip we are sacrificing our best men [against Israel] while your daughters are appearing in such a disgraceful manner.”

Writing in defense of the controversial show, a man who identified himself as Mohammed from Nablus barked at the critics in the Gaza Strip: “We forgot about the intifada and the martyrs. We left them to the people of the Gaza Strip; to hell with you and your intifada!”
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