Hamas Bans Singing Competition in Gaza
Organizers of the Palestinian version of “American Idol” said Thursday the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers have banned residents from participating in the popular reality show.
The organizers said Hamas told them the program is “indecent,” in what appears to be a new attempt by the fundamentalist militant Muslim group to crack down on behavior it sees as contrary to its conservative interpretation of Islam.
In the past, Hamas has banned women from riding on the backs of motorbikes, women from smoking water pipes, and men from working in hair salons — saying such practices were immodest. Not all bans are imposed uniformly.
The ban on competing in New Star came around the same time that Hamas police beat up members of Gaza’s tiny Shiite minority while they tried to hold a religious ceremony.
Alaa al-Abed, the chief producer of the “New Star” program, said the edict would prevent Gaza’s 12 contestants from competing in the upcoming second round of the competition Thursday night. It will be broadcast next month. He said he was informed of the decision last Saturday.
“This is more serious than Hamas just killing fun in Gaza — they are limiting the freedoms of the people, according to their whims,” al-Abed said.
There was no official comment from Hamas.