Thursday, 23 July 2009

A different kind of Palestinian refugee

A female journalist from Gaza has been granted asylum in Britain. Some extracts from her case:

Whilst writing at university, she developed an interest in “gender understanding” [...] She became deeply concerned and aware of gender issues. She in fact became recognised as a “woman’s rights advocate”. Her focus was always on how women were being affected. She was concerned with improving the situation for Palestinian women.


The Appellant became much exercised about the influence of Hamas, especially when they took power in Gaza in June 2007 and this continues to affect her. [...] From June 2007 until the present, she gradually came to realise that Hamas was not only a political institution or party, but much more than that. Gaza has slowly become an Islamic republic and is transforming into an extremist environment.


Having an opinion contrary to Hamas is tantamount to supporting Israel. During the course of her evidence, she explained that she was, for example, strongly opposed to the use of suicide bombers to murder Israeli civilians. She is strongly opposed to the politics of Hamas. She characterises them as self-destructive, violent and counter productive.


She cannot return to Gaza and at the same time write or express anti-Hamas views without being accused of being a betrayer by not supporting Hamas. Nor can she return and remain quiet about what she believes in and write what she wishes to write. She cannot support Hamas and write positively about them. She wishes to continue to express her views and would not be able to do this without fear of persecution were she to be returned to Gaza.


A woman with her views would be seen as strongly anti-Hamas. She has studied for a long time in the West and has appreciated life there, especially as far as equality between men and women are concerned. Gazan women are told that they are to be killed if they refuse to follow the Islamic expectation that women cover up.


She recalled the early years of the establishment of Hamas and how acid was used to terrorise women and force them to wear the hijab. Many were beaten and abused because they refused to conform.


The Appellant asserts that during the last few years, Hamas has been more rigid and fundamentalist than ever. Wearing the hijab is universally implemented in secondary schools. It is even widely spread in elementary schools. Girls as young as seven wear it. She believes that imposing a law compelling the wearing of a hijab degrades those women who do not want to conform to the code. She asserts that she stands for what she believes in and does not want to have to compromise her views. Her refusal to wear a hijab is a further “core issue” on her return as she would be spotted as a non-conformist Palestinian woman. She will be confronted by men and asked to cover up.


The issue of the hijab is only one aspect of her ‘feminist’ stances. She would continue working for human rights and women’s rights, which contradicts Hamas’s ideology. The effect of returning her would be to oblige her to change from an independent, motivated and ambitious role model to a subordinated wife whose only dream is to produce as many children as possible. She would be seriously harmed or killed for standing up for her own beliefs.

Anyone on the left, and especially any feminist, who persists in the insane illusion that Hamas is somehow 'part of the global left', should read the whole thing.

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