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Hamas slams PA for Ramallah dance festival
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
22/04/2012
Festival coincides with beginning of hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, sparking anger among some.
 
Hamas and other Palestinians strongly condemned the Palestinian Authority for allowing the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival to take place this year.

The annual festival, which opened last Thursday in Ramallah, has drawn thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and is supported by the PA Ministry of Culture, the Ramallah Municipality, the Swiss Organization for Cooperation and Development and the Goethe Institute.

The festival hosts 15 local and international dance companies that will perform in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus and Hebron.

The festival also includes dance workshops and film and documentary screenings about the German choreographer Pina Bausch, who played a major role in the development of modern dance in Germany.

The British troupe Ballet Boyz opened the festival.

The families of some of the striking prisoners also criticized the PA leadership over the dance festival. They said that the timing of the festival was an insult to their feelings and the struggles of their sons.

Noting that the dance festival coincided with the beginning of a hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, Hamas leaders accused the PA of showing disrespect for the feelings of Palestinians.

“Holding dance festivals in Ramallah at the same time that our prisoners are on hunger strike violates the traditions and culture of our Palestinian people,” said Hamas leader Ezat Risheq.

“This is an insult to the suffering of our prisoners.”

Mustafa Sawwaf, a senior official with the Hamas-run Ministry of Culture in the Gaza Strip, also lashed out at the PA for permitting the dance festival to take place in the West Bank.

“These kind of festivals are completely rejected by our people,” Sawwaf said. “They are not consistent with our peoples’ values and morals.”

He added that it would have been better had the PA government postponed the festival, especially because it coincided with the hunger strike of the Palestinian prisoners.

“Hamas supports art, but only that which reflects the suffering of our people,” he argued. “But art that goes against our values is unacceptable.”
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