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Friday, May 11, 2012

Hamas breaks up a literature festival

From PCHR:
[A]t approximately 17:00 on Wednesday, 09 May 2012, the concluding colloquium of the Palestine Festival of Literature was initiated in the ancient al-Bashal Castle in the east of Gaza City, with a number of Arab poets and writers in attendance. The colloquium was opened with a speech by ‘Amru ‘Izzat, an Egyptian blogger, who talked about liberty. Following the opening of the colloquium, a security officer wearing civilian clothes arrived at the place and introduced himself as a member of the Palestinian police investigation department. He cut off the electricity and requested the attendees to leave the place. Shortly after this occurred, a number of security officers were deployed to the place when attendees refused to leave. They confiscated cameras that had filmed the colloquium, chaos spread and the colloquium was broken up.
Ma'an adds:
Security forces cut off electricity and forbade the audience from taking photos on their mobiles [the PJS] said. They also "attacked" Hazem Shahin, a member of an Egyptian band, the syndicate said.

It was not immediately possible to contact visiting members of the festival because they were afraid to discuss the incident until their departure. The event will conclude in Cairo.
The Hamas chief of police apologized saying it was an "individual error." But the fear that even the foreign participants have to speak about what happened says volumes about how the Gaza leadership is pretty much the same as any other Arab dictatorship.

In related news, Hamas also forcibly stopped an Al Quds TV crew from filming a story a couple of days ago.