The Hamas-run Education Ministry has ordered an anthology of Palestinian folk tales pulled from school libraries, reportedly over mild sexual innuendo, the most direct attempt by the Islamic militants to impose their beliefs on Palestinian society.
The book ban angered and worried many Palestinians, who have feared that Hamas would use last year’s election victory to remake the Palestinian territories according to its hard-line interpretation of Islam.
The 400-page anthology of 45 folk tales narrated by Palestinian women was first published in English in 1989 by the University of California at Berkeley. It was put together by Sharif Kanaana, a novelist and anthropology professor at the West Bank’s Bir Zeit University, and by Ibrahim Muhawi, a teacher of Arabic literature and the theory of translation.
Kanaana said Monday he believes “The Little Bird,” a story in a chapter titled “Sexual Awakening and Courtship,” was among reasons the book was banned because it mentions private parts. In their notes, the authors say the bird in the story is a symbol of femininity and that sexual subjects are a principal source of humor in Palestinian folklore.
If Palestinian children can’t read this perhaps the rest of us should. Let’s not let the book burners win in the culture wars whether they be here or in Palestine.
A Hamas minister defended the book banning:
Education Minister Nasser Shaer confirmed to The Associated Press that the ministry ordered the book pulled from the school libraries, saying it is “full of clear sexual expressions.” However, Shaer denied the books were destroyed.
Spoken like a true philistine. It is actions like this which, if multiplied, will end up driving them from power. Palestinians didn’t elect Hamas to impose Islamic moral standards on Palestinian society.