Civil space shrinking in Gaza thanks to Hamas, Israel and Egypt

The Islamist group does itself no favours with such behaviour:

Hamas authorities in Gaza should immediately lift bans arbitrarily imposed on books and newspapers, Human Rights Watch said today. Hamas security officers recently confiscated copies of novels from bookstores on the basis of their allegedly “immoral” content, and Hamas officials bar newspapers from being brought into the Gaza Strip that support the rival Fatah movement, which leads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. “At a time when people around the Middle East demand more freedom, Hamas has decided to restrict the freedom of Gaza residents to choose what they read,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Hamas authorities should stop banning books and newspapers now.”

Human Rights Watch has also criticized bans by the Palestinian Authority (PA) against pro-Hamas publications in the West Bank, as well as other violations against journalists by its security services, with a report on the issue due out shortly.

On January 23, 2011, Hamas police officers entered three bookstores in Gaza City and confiscated copies of two books, saying they were allegedly “against Shari’a” without providing any basis for their actions in written law or court order.

Dr. Talaat al-Safadi, the owner of the Ibn Khaldun bookstore near Al Azhar University in Gaza City, told Human Rights Watch that two police officers in street clothes and another in uniform came to his bookstore and confiscated seven copies of A Banquet for Seaweed, a novel by Haidar Haidar, and one copy of Chicago, a novel by Alaa’ al-Aswany.

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