Hamas says PA waging war against Islam in West Bank

The Islamist Hamas has accused the Palestinian Authority of "waging war on Islam" by detaining and firing hundreds of Imams and banning the recitation of Quran over loudspeakers in mosques in West Bank.

Updated: Aug 18, 2010, 15:56 PM IST

Jerusalem: The Islamist Hamas has accused the Palestinian Authority of "waging war on Islam" by detaining and firing hundreds of Imams and banning the recitation of Quran over loudspeakers in mosques in West Bank.

Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, which it acquired after vanquishing forces loyal to the Palestinian Authority in June 2007.

The allegation followed a series of measures taken by West backed PA against Hamas supporters and institutions in the West Bank, which remains in its control.

"We warn the Fatah (party led by PA President Mahmoud Abbas) authority in Ramallah against waging war on religious people and institutions in the West Bank," a statement issued by Hamas said.

Hamas sources were quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying that the PA`s Ministry for Wakf (Islamic trust) Affairs had shut down hundreds of centres for teaching the Quran in mosques in the West Bank over the past few months.

PA security officials reportedly said that the centres were being used as bases and meeting places for Hamas supporters, but Hamas insists the centres had functioned as schools for teaching young men and women to recite the Quran.

It also accused the PA of firing hundreds of imams under the pretext that they were affiliated to the Islamist movement.

PA, earlier this week, issued an order banning Sheikh Hamed Bittawi, a senior representative of Hamas in the West Bank and a leading Islamic scholar, and a prominent critic of the PA from delivering sermons during Friday prayers.

"The government in Ramallah wants only yes-men as preachers," Bittawi alleged. Current PA Minister for Wakf Affairs Mahmoud Habbash, a former Hamas representative who was expelled from the movement several years ago, defended the crackdown on the preachers and imams.
"They are accusing us of waging war on Islam. We built mosques and taught many people the Quran. We also trained many imams and Quran-readers.

"Unlike Hamas, we didn`t fire rockets at mosques and kill children and the elderly inside mosques," he told the Post.

Bureau Report