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Asma’a Al-Ghoul is a Palestinian secular feminist who has written poignant, heartbreaking pieces about honor killings and women’s rights in Gaza. Last month, Asma’a quit her job at Al Ayaam because her subject matter got her into “trouble” at work. She is also the journalist who was arrested over the weekend by Hamas’s “morality” police, ostensibly for “laughing immoderately” and for “immodest” clothing at the beach.
Asma’a, the 27 year-old mother of a four year-old son, was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. She went into the water fully clothed. Apparently, that was not modest enough for them.
According to Asma’a, with whom I just spoke, the Palestinian police detained her and took her passport away. They also beat up four male friends: two right there on the beach, all four back in police custody. (One of these men was not sitting with them at the time but came to their aid when the police attacked them). Due to the intercession of a journalist-friend with whom the beach goers were visiting, the police let Asma’a go—but with a warning; they told her “they would be following her case.” The police also returned Asma’a’s passport to her. In addition, the police wanted to confiscate her laptop but luckily, they were unable to find it.
Since then, Asma’a received a written death threat. She has been staying home, and has, understandably, had trouble sleeping.
“But,” she tells me, “Both my friends and the media have been supporting me.” Indeed, Asma’a wrote to thank me for my recent piece which mentioned her plight.
“And” she points out, “yesterday at , the government, possibly for the first time ever, announced that they will be looking into this matter.”
Asma’a explained that many other such incidents have happened and been covered up. “People are afraid to speak out. But we must speak out in order to stop this. We fear that the government will banish those who speak.”
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