Hamas-led Gov’t Encourages Cinema, Fights Obscenity

The new Hamas-led Palestinian government encourages meaningful movies, but will stand up firmly against pornography and obscene entertainment like belly-dancing, the new Palestinian minister of culture has said.

“I would open cinemas. It could be an education and help people live better. Hollywood is not all bad. Titanic was a good film, a human film,” Atallah Abu Al-Subbah told Britain’s daily the Guardian in an interview on Thursday, April 6.

He said he was mulling the reopening of three big cinemas in the Gaza Strip, which were closed at the beginning of the first Palestinian Intifada in 1987 and were never reopened.

The Palestinian minister said the Islamic culture was open to other culture and not only limited to religion.

Hamas cruised to a landslide parliamentary victory in January, grabbing 74 seats in the 132-seat Palestinian parliament.

Prime Minister Ismail Haniya last month formed a 24-member cabinet of its own leaders and technocrats, including two Christians. The new government was took over from President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement on March 31.

No Obscenity

The Palestinian minister vowed to take action against obscenity and nudity, regarding belly-dancing as a sort of striptease.

“I do not regard forms of pornography and striptease as culture. They are destructive,” he told Reuters on Thursday in another interview.”We will have dialogue in the ministry here and with our people to agree on what is forbidden. There should be clear policies and clear legislation.”

He said Israel spreads cheap pornographic movies among the Palestinians.”They seek to destroy this people, Israel and its collaborators,” he said.

He said he would boost the Islamic values and the “culture of resistance” to confront vice in the occupied territories.

Not Taliban

Abu Al-Subbah dismissed claims that he might seek to force his non-Muslim employees to wear hijab. “We’re not the Taliban. We love Jesus. We love Moses,” he said.

“I talk to them but we will never think to rule our people by the sword,” he said. Several female employees in Abu Al-Subbah’s office did not wear hijab.

The minister summoned a Christian worker at the culture ministry to demonstrate that he practices what he preaches.

Abuline Darsi duly arrived, head uncovered and a silver crucifix dangling from her neck. “She’s our sister. She’s our employee here. We’re not going to do anything bad to her,” he said.