Middle East

Hamas arrests male hairdresser for Gaza woman's haircut

A veiled Hamas supporter in Gaza Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hamas argues it is enforcing a law supported by most of the population in Gaza

The Hamas government in Gaza has begun enforcing a law introduced last year banning men from cutting women's hair.

Until now, the law had not been enforced, but this week at least one male hairdresser in Gaza was arrested.

Male hairdressers for women are regarded by many Muslims as against Islamic tradition.

The move is seen as an attempt to bolster Hamas's Islamic credentials against critics who say it has become too moderate.

'Undercover police'

The reality is in Gaza - with its huge Muslim majority - most women do not want to have their hair cut by men.

Nevertheless a few salons have clung on, where male hairdressers work.

This week they are sitting idle outside their shops, fearful of arrest if they step inside.

Adnan Barakat, a hairdresser with 27 years experience, said: "Without work, I am like a dead man, because I am without work. The salon cannot work without me. This is my work since 1984. I haven't another work. What can I do?"

Others, like Mr Barakat, complain they are being watched by undercover police.

Hamas argues it is only enforcing a law that the majority of people here want.

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