Thursday, January 01, 2009

Hamas Legalizes Crucifixion: Another Urban Legend?

On December 24 the Jerusalem Post reported that "Hamas Pushes For Sharia Punishments." Israel Today and others reported the same. The JP said:

The Hamas parliament in the Gaza Strip voted in favor of a law allowing courts to mete out sentences in the spirit of Islam, the London-based Arab daily Al Hayat reported Wednesday.

According to the bill, approved in its second reading and awaiting a third reading before the approval of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as the Palestinian constitution demands, courts will be able to condemn offenders to a plethora of violent punitive measures in line with Sharia Law.

Such punishments include whipping, severing hands, crucifixion and hanging. The bill reserves death sentences to people who negotiate with a foreign government "against Palestinian interests" and engage in any activity that can "hurt Palestinian morale."
According to the report, any Palestinian caught drinking or selling wine would suffer 40 lashes at the whipping post if the bill passes. Thieves caught red-handed would lose their right hand."

The JP then added: "The Jerusalem Post could not verify the veracity of the Al Hayat report."

Beliefnet picked up on this and posted that "Hamas Legalizes Crucifixion."

Yesterday the Dallas Morning News said it could not verify if the report was accurate. It links to an Islamic scholar, Nathan Brown, at George Washington University, who says: 1) "There is an effort to draft a penal code based on shari‘a and this is a significant development on many grounds. The pro-Hamas press in Gaza has reported on an effort to develop a new Palestinian criminal code based on Islamic law"; and 2) "The al-Hayat story was clearly based on a mistake. And it’s not hard to figure out the error. One of their reporters got a copy of the draft that was being prepared and mistakenly assumed that it had already been passed. This was clear from a clarification the paper issued the next day. Noting that the speaker’s office denied the parliament had passed the draft, al-Hayat claimed that the copy it had obtained was gussied up as if it had been passed by the parliament. But drafts produced by the Diwan al-Fatwa wa-l-Tashri‘ (the Bureau of Legal Consultation and Legislation, the PA body attached to the Ministry of Justice that is responsible for drafting legislation) routinely appear this way."

Israel National News today has posted "Hamas's Denial On Islamic Law Is a Lie." The Bureau of Islamic Law is preparing such a code.

So - what's the truth and what's the urban legend? I guess we'll see if and when this new penaol code is made public.

I don't like passing urban legends along. When certain sources claimed this I shared it with some people, in horror. Now I am not so certain about this story. We'll see.