Hamas wants Ramallah festival cancelled

Opponents say planned modern dance festival event is an "insult" to the Palestinian struggle.

Ramallah 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Ramallah 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Hamas called on the Palestinian Authority over the weekend to cancel a dance festival that is scheduled to take place in Ramallah on the grounds that the event is an "insult" to the Palestinian "struggle." The third annual Contemporary Dance Festival, which is scheduled to take place this week in Ramallah, features a varied lineup of modern and traditional performances from local and international dance troupes. The festival is organized by the Sareyyet Ramallah - First Ramallah Group - a local NGO whose goal is to broaden the cultural landscape by introducing Palestinians to new and progressive forms of contemporary artistic expression through dance. The festival's opening event will be a performance by the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra of Norway, one of Scandinavia's leading jazz ensembles. Other performances will feature ensembles and dance troupes from the West Bank and a variety of European countries, including Italy, Serbia and Finland. Hamas is opposed to the event mainly because it would bring men and women together. The Islamic movement also maintains that it is "inappropriate" to hold such an event while Palestinians were still fighting against Israel. Saleh al-Raqab, Deputy Minister of Waqf Affairs in the Hamas government, said the festival "distorted" the Palestinian "struggle" and harms the image of the Palestinians. "Those who are dancing on the pain and wounds of the Palestinian people can't be part of our people," he said. "How can they be dancing while our people in the Gaza Strip are suffering under the siege?" Raqab claimed that the organizers were spending millions of dollars to bring international dance troupes. "They are wasting the money of our people on trivial matters," he said. "This event has nothing to do with our people's culture and history." He urged the Palestinians to boycott the "disgraceful" dance festival and distance themselves from the organizers. "This event is an insult to all Muslims," he added. "Is this the way to liberate Palestine?"