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Islamofeminism in Hamastan : Burqas and martyr moms

March 3, 2006

MIM: Note that Alan Johnson refers to the murder of "five Israelis in a school for military and religious studies". The students were studying in what is known as a "hesder yeshiva" which allows religiously observant Jews to continue their religious studies while in the military . The religious studies do not as Johnson disingenuously implies, have anything to do with the military training. Women ponder future under Hamas
By Alan Johnston
BBC News, Gaza

Jamila al-Shanti is exhibit A in the case for niqabs and burqas for Islamo feminists -one can only hope she is the first to begin the trend

She is the political visionary in

MIM:'Shahadah Momma' Mariam Farhat - The 'Mother from hell' who sends her sons to die while killing other people's children

Among those on the Hamas benches in the new Palestinian parliament sits Mariam Farhat - also known as the "Mother of Martyrs".

Hers is a story of death and sacrifice that the militant group's faithful regard as a grim inspiration.

Her son Muhammad died during an attack on one of the settlements that the Israelis built after they occupied Gaza.

He was shot dead after killing five Israelis in a school for military and religious studies.

Before launching his attack the 17-year-old made a video in which his mother Mariam blessed his suicide mission.

Later she lost two more of her boys in confrontations with Israeli forces.


Mrs Farhat has become for Hamas an iconic figure, a symbol of a willingness to fight Israel - no matter how great the cost.

But if you really want to know what the rise of Hamas and its formation of the new government might mean for Palestinian women, you need to talk to Jamila al-Shanti.

She is the political visionary in the party's female ranks, and she was the third placed candidate on its national electoral list.

Ms Shanti talks of Hamas using the proper interpretation of Islam to push back boundaries for women, and draw them more into employment and social activity of all kinds.

"There are traditions here that say that a woman should take a secondary role - that she should be at the back," she says.

"But that is not Islam. Hamas will scrap many of these traditions. You will find women going out and participating," she explains.

"This doesn't mean that we will depart from Islamic law. People think that Islamic law is about being veiled, and closed and staying at home - but that's wrong. A woman can go out veiled and do all kinds of work without any problem."

Islamic heritage

And what does Hamas make of the lifestyles of more secular women - those who might like to go unveiled and spend an evening talking to friends of the opposite sex in cafes?

This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at