Gazan man: Hamas beat me for affairs

Gallery owner allegedly beaten as punishment for extramarital relations.

hamas man 311 (photo credit: AP)
hamas man 311
(photo credit: AP)
A Gaza art gallery owner said Wednesday that Hamas police had repeatedly beaten and abused him over allegations that he’d had sexual relations with women who were not his wife, which is forbidden by Islamic law.
According to Gaza human rights activists, the rare admission by Jamal Abu Qumsan, who is unmarried, is the clearest evidence yet of a quiet but persistent Hamas moral crackdown in Gaza as part of an attempt to implement strict Islamic law.
“They kept asking me as they beat me, ‘Who are the girls you sleep with?’ I told them I’m not sleeping with anybody,” Abu Qumsan told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
He said police interrogators beat him across his back, legs and buttocks in hours-long interrogations over three days last week. To back up his claims, Abu Qumsan e-mailed reporters a photo of his bruises.
The 43-year-old said he had also been accused of hosting exhibitions in his art cafe and gallery without government permits.
Hamas officials were not available for comment.
Human rights activists say that since the Islamic group seized power inGaza three years ago, Hamas security officials have interrogated,beaten and detained other residents for belonging to rival Palestiniangroups. Hamas officials have often harassed men and women to publiclyabide by the group’s stern Islamic moral code, activists say.
However, this is the first time a Gaza resident has said publicly thathe was interrogated over his sex life. According to activists, otherresidents have been questioned in a similar manner, but have been toofrightened to come forward.
“If I stay silent, I think they’ll take somebody else tomorrow, andthen a second person, and then a third, and it will go on and on,” AbuQumsan said.