Associated Press
January 24, 2011 - 1:00am,7340,L-4018504,00.html

The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip has banned the sale of two books by Arab writers that it said "contradict" Islam.

It was the latest step by the militant group to impose its strict version of Islam in Gaza. Since seizing power in 2007, Hamas has also banned women from smoking water pipes or riding motorbikes.

Culture Ministry spokesman Ehab Senwar said Monday that the books were banned after residents complained about their contents. He said the books won't be sold until a committee checks their contents.

One of the books, Egyptian Alaa al-Aswany's "Chicago," describes the lives of Egyptian immigrants in the US It wasn't known exactly what was deemed offensive about the book, but it has been criticized by others for portraying a romantically involved unmarried couple.

The other, an 18-year-old book by Syrian writer Haidar Haidar called "A Banquet for Seaweed," has been deemed blasphemous in several parts of the Muslim world because it contains phrases describing God as a "failed artist" and the Prophet Muhammad as a womanizer.

The book looks at the failure of Arab revolutionary movements in Iraq and Algeria in the aftermath of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

The books were pulled from stores Sunday.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017