New piety squad patrols Ramallah

A new squad of morality police has begun detaining Palestinians who eat or drink in public during Ramadan in the West Bank, where the Islamic month of daytime fasting was always widely observed but never imposed.

The 12-member squad appears to be an attempt by President Mahmoud Abbas’ West Bank government to challenge the monopoly on religious righteousness claimed by the militant group Hamas, the rival ruler of Gaza.

The sudden deployment of Ramadan police was unexpected in Ramallah, the seat of Abbas’ government and the most cosmopolitan and well-to-do of the Palestinian cities. Ramadan squads have not been set up in other West Bank towns.

Watching observers arrive at one of the town’s main mosques one recent afternoon, vice squad Lt. Murad Qendah got a radio call telling him a suspect has been spotted in the street imbibing “karoub” — a local soft drink made from carob pods. He ordered his six-man squad to seize the man’s papers pending investigation. Police say violators are usually held for 24 hours.

“If anybody violates respect for Ramadan in the street, we take their identity papers and hold them for investigation,” said Qendah, 27, whose officers wear red shoulder badges reading “morality police.”
Police spokesman Adnan al-Damari said police have arrested at least 50 alleged public morality offenders in Ramallah since the start of Ramadan, but would not be going after people who break the fast in their own homes.

“The duty of the morality police is to preserve public manners in public places, and to preserve the feelings of the people who are fasting,” he said. “Violating the holiness of Ramadan is a violation of people’s freedom. ”

In addition to booking smokers, snackers and carob juice drinkers, Qendah is also on the alert for young men whistling at girls or drivers playing their car stereos too loud.

Soon the “Palestinians” — a phony nationality to begin with — will be begging for the Israelis to come back. They’ll decide that being Israeli was nicer than being Palestinian, whatever that was — they won’t even recall — they’ll just know that it hurts. Soon after, the “Kosovars” — a phony nationality to begin with — will be begging the Serbs to come back. (The Coming Balkan Caliphate details what the Islamists have been wreaking upon the Kosovars since we kicked the Serbs out.) The “Kosovars” will decide that being Serbian was nicer than being Kosovar, whatever that was — they won’t even recall — they’ll just know that it hurts.