Hamas is cracking down on a new threat to the well-being of the citizens of the Gaza Strip: low-riding pants.
Several Gazan teenagers from Rafah were recently arrested by Hamas police because the clothes they wore were “foreign to Palestinian society, and contradicted the culture, values, and ethical code of the Strip’s residents,” the Hebrew daily Maariv reported on Sunday.
The perpetrators had adopted “Western street fashion” and wore pants that rode so low as to show their underpants.
The arrests prompted discussions on an official Hamas forum, with several people posting outraged comments. Although they opposed the decadent fashion, the punishment did not fit the crime, they argued.
Maariv quoted one Gaza participant’s comment in the Internet forum: “Arrest? I am opposed. It’s personal freedom. It would be enough for the police to launch an educational campaign, not arrest. Why are they pursuing people’s dress?”
Another writer, who criticized the low-pants fashion, nonetheless called the decision to arrest the teens “idiocy.”
One commentator came out in favor for the decision, saying, “These youths don’t understand anything. They are simply imitating the West, therefore this campaign can help educate them.”
The report did not say how many youths were detained, or for how long.
The Hamas government’s involvement in clothing restrictions is not without precedent. As part of a declared public morality campaign, Hamas police have intervened to prevent shops that sell women’s clothes from having dressing rooms or tinted windows, and ordered that mannequins displaying clothing must be modestly dressed, AFP reported in 2010.
Earlier this year, the Hamas police cracked down on lingerie shops in the Gaza Strip, because they were “behaving in a way unbefitting to Muslim society,” the World Tribune reported.
The Islamist Hamas group gained control of Gaza in a violent takeover from Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority in 2007.