x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Hamas bans women on motorcycles

The group say safety concerns and social traditions, not Islamic religious values, are behind a ban on women riding motorbikes in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas has said a ban on women riding motorbikes or scooters in the Gaza Strip is due to safety concerns and social traditions, not Islamic religious. In a decision that would raise eyebrows in Rome or Rio de Janeiro, the Interior Ministry said it was banning women from riding two-wheelers or being pillion passengers, to limit accidents and to "protect community values".

Ehab al Ghsain, a spokesman for the group, said the decision was taken after it found that women riding behind their husbands or male relatives was one of the main reasons for accidents in recent weeks. "We have taken a series of decisions to limit accidents and avoid loss of lives. Men carrying women behind them on motorcycles caused accidents and did not match our social traditions," he said. "The image looked odd." Human rights groups have said Hamas is gradually imposing a strict Islamic code on the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza.

Couples have complained of being stopped by police and asked for papers to prove they are married, and men have been told to cover up on the beach. *Reuters