Hamas: no Sharia, "Christian brothers" are full citizens
by Abou Mahmud

The fundamentalist movement, winners of Palestinian elections, speaks to AsiaNews of their plans to build a "civil government", makes great offers of brotherhood towards Christians, and is planning to meet with the Patriarchs  and is seeking contact with the Vatican.

Bethlehem (AsiaNews) – No Sharia, because "religion cannot be forced", but a civil government that renders justice to all those who have suffered and have been harassed, also as a result of corruption, whether they be Muslims or "our Christian brothers", which Hamas considers "citizens with full rights and obligations," "with their freedom of thought and religion."  The winners of Palestinian elections, under the pressure of calls from the international community to abandon violence and recognize Israel, evidently wish to ease the minds of the Christian world, worried for the possible fundamentalist implications of Hamas' rise to power, and, in an interview with AsiaNews, are launching an offer of friendship and brotherhood.  A "campaign" made evident also by the fact that a meeting is planned with the Patriarchs and the leaders of religious institutions in the Holy Land on Tueday, February 7, and that contact is being sought with the Vatican.

To questions posed by AsiaNews, Anwar Zbouan, elected with Hamas in Bethlehem, "furnished the answers of the movement's leadership."

Hamas is known as a fundamentalist movement and various Christians have expressed concern over the future government.  What will be the movement's policy vis-à-vis Christians?

Our Christians brothers have been our partners in suffering and are our neighbors and friends.  Israeli occupation does not differentiate in its brutality between Christians and Muslims and, among them, as among us, there are martyrs, wounded and prisoners, and we assure that Christians are citizens with full rights and obligations and with their intellectual and religious freedom in their daily life.

Are you planning to introduce Sharia?

The Islamic Movement Hamas seeks to establish a civil government and not a religious one.  And this civil government is based on freedom; as the Almighty God says, "No force in religion" and therefore we will not force anyone to comply with religious principles, because this is related to the people's contentment and to maintaining religious beliefs, especially Christian brothers.

In recent years, in the Palestinian Territories, Christians have been unjustly robbed of their land, homes, and have been subjected to violence…How will Hamas deal with these injustices?

The reason that Hamas has joined the legislative council is to fight corruption and render justice for all from injustices, regardless of religious, intellectual and political affiliations.  We are all citizens and no one is above the law; therefore, we are for separating juridical power from legislative and executive power and we will champion the oppressed until injustices are eliminated.  Everyone can testify that the sons of the Islamic Movement have their hands clean and have never been involved in injustices towards others or in property misappropriations.  Our Christian brothers in Bethlehem can attest to this.

The international community asks Hamas to recognize the existence of Israel and threatens otherwise to isolate it.  How will Hamas deal with Israel and international pressure?  Do you have a plan for coexistence with Israel?

The state of Israel is a fact, but it is an occupying state, which usurped our land, stole our fortunes, and imposed all types of humiliation and inhumane deeds towards our people; all international and heavenly laws guarantee us the right to resist the occupation and the resistance will end when the occupation ends.  We want everyone to know that our conflict with the Jews is not a religious, theological cause, but a matter of our lands' occupation and we resist the occupants regardless of their faith and intellect.

As for the international community, we assure that support to the Palestinian people is for the sons of the Palestinian people and is used for building their well-being in various domains and not for a specific party; we consider that stopping aid is a punishment toward all Palestinians and their democracy, and such a thing is unjustified.