Hussam al-Tawil, a Christian parliamentary candidate, is backed by an unlikely ally: Hamas. The alliance is seen as part of the Islamic group's effort to broaden its appeal and soften its image ahead of Wednesday's parliamentary election. Critics dismiss the move as a publicity stunt. Others see it as a sign of the group's pragmatism and political savvy as it heads into its first parliamentary election. Al-Tawil, who is running as an independent, is one of three Christian candidates competing for a Gaza parliamentary seat that is reserved for the Christian minority. One opponent is a member of Fatah, the other is an independent as well. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the unusual alliance proved his movements open-mindedness.