"If necessary, we will behead and slaughter to preserve the spirit and morals of our people."
On May 31st, the New York Times published an analysis of the rise of radical jihadist groups in the Palestinian territories. As I have noted before, radical Islamists in the Gaza Strip have waged a brutal campaign against any activity or form of expression they deem "un-Islamic". In fact, the Times article begins with an account of one of the Islamists' dozens of attacks on Internet cafes:
It was 2 a.m. when masked gunmen raided Al Wafa Net in the Khan Yunis camp in Gaza where 17 young men were surfing the Internet.
“The gunmen tied their hands, then forced them to stand at the stairs while they broke all the screens, and then the server and the television and the photocopier,” said the owner, Hamad, of the attack a few months ago. “Then they burned all 36 computers.”
In recent months in Gaza, there have been similar attacks on music and video shops and pharmacies accused of selling Viagra, as well as on American and United Nations schools.
Ironically, on June 1, just one day after the Times article appeared, the radical Islamists launched their newest morality campaign: they threatened to murder female Palestinian television anchors unless they start wearing full veils. The June 2 Jerusalem Post has the details:
A leaflet distributed by the Righteous Swords of Islam specifically referred to the women who appear on Palestine TV. "The saying these days is that the enemy has withdrawn from the Gaza Strip and so have our morals," it read. "It's indeed disgraceful that the women working for the official Palestinian media are competing with each other to display their charms."
Referring to the fact that most of the female presenters were not wearing the niqab, a veil covering the face of Muslim women as a part of hijab, the leaflet asked: "Where are the decision-makers in this regard? Have we lost our conscience? Have the brothers, fathers and husbands stopped caring about their women?"
The group warned that its members would strike with an "iron fist and swords" against the women who are refusing to cover their faces. "We will destroy their homes," it announced. "We will blow up their working places. We have a lot of information about their addresses and we are following their movements."
The leaflet concluded by threatening to "slaughter" the women for allegedly spreading corruption in Palestinian society by appearing on the screen with their faces uncovered.
"The administration and workers at Palestine TV should know that we are much closer to them than they think," it added. "If necessary, we will behead and slaughter to preserve the spirit and morals of our people."
To their credit, Palestinian anchorwomen staged two days of protests in response, while less radical Palestinian groups condemned the threats. Still, on top of everything else that is wrong in Gaza, the overall trend is disturbing. As one Palestinian official told the Post, "(t)he day will come when we will miss Hamas. These are extremely dangerous groups that are trying to take Palestinian society back to the Dark Ages."