Hamas' Islamisation campaign' bans women from riding bikes

Hamas` Islamisation campaign` bans women from riding bikes Jerusalem: The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas has banned women in Gaza from riding on motorbikes, amid growing concerns that a new Islamisation campaign may be underway.

Hamas, which remains in control of the Gaza Strip after it took full security control over the enclave following a near-civil war with its rival faction Fatah in mid-2007, has sought to justify the ban in a bid "to preserve citizen safety and the stability of Palestinian society's customs and traditions".

The ban, posted on the movement's interior ministry website, raises concerns that a new Islamisation campaign is under way, the Guardian newspaper said today.

Since the summer there have been signs of a socially conservative campaign. In July, a senior judge announced a dress code under which female lawyers would have to wear conservative robes and headscarves in court, the British daily said.

Hamas stormtroopers have also reportedly tried to prevent unmarried couples from mixing together in public and banned mannequins and the display of women's underwear in shop windows, the report said.

For the first three years that Hamas was in power in Gaza there was little sign of any effort to Islamise society. Instead the group focused on exerting its military control, confronting armed criminal clans and preventing Fatah from rebuilding itself.

Bureau Report