A new law passed by the Hamas government in Gaza banning co-ed schools has left many Christians fearful that their schools are in danger of closure, according to the Beirut-based Al-Akhbar daily.
The new law, which mandates gender segregation in all schools, also bans men from teaching at girls’ schools. The law will likely force Christian educational institutions to close their doors to Muslim and Christian students alike, reported the newspaper.
Samer Badra, financial director of the Patriarchate Schools in Gaza, told Al-Akhbar, “Implementing the new education law will force Gaza’s Christian institutions to build new facilities and hire new employees to comply with the articles. That is something that the modest budget of our church-affiliated non-profit educational institutions cannot afford.”
Badra stressed that the idea of gender segregation goes against the Patriarchate’s mission to teach students to co-exist and respect the opposite sex.
Badra goes on to mention that the law will have dire consequences for freedom of belief, “straining the relationship between Muslims and Christians, which was not tarnished in any way after the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip.”
Senior Christian clergy are set to meet with Hamas’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to reach a solution satisfactory to both parties, reported Al-Akhbar.
Mutassim Minawi, director of public relations at Gaza’s education ministry, told the newspaper that the ministry “did not intend to harm” Christian citizens of Gaza.
“We are only an administrative arm that has to abide by the law passed by the Legislative Council,” he said.
He pointed out that education minister Osama al-Muzaini “is not going to implement the law in one swoop and it will not be imposed by force.”
Minawi argued that “the Gaza Strip’s culture is conservative and does not favor gender mixing. The majority of Palestinians in Gaza praised the law and only leftist parties criticized it.”
Several months ago, Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers took another step towards the implementation of strict Islamic sharia law in the region by introducing a strict dress code for female students at the Al-Aqsa University.
A letter distributed to students in November stated that all students should wear “modest clothing” on campus.
Since violently taking over Gaza in 2007, Hamas has enforced a stringent interpretation of Islamic law in Gaza. The terror group has banned women and teenagers from smoking hookahs in public, ordered that women’s clothing stores are not allowed to have dressing rooms, men cannot have hairdressing salons for women and that mannequins shaped like women must be dressed in modest clothing.
Last year the Hamas government banned residents of Gaza from participating in the national reality singing show “New Star”, which follows the same format as popular U.S. shows “American Idol” and “The X-Factor.”
Hamas claimed the program was “indecent,” adding it contradicts the customs and traditions of the Gaza community.