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Monday, March 8, 2021

Public Uproar Rolls Back Decision of Religious Sharia Court in Gaza

The Palestinian Authority's Supreme Judge Department finally rules that it is the only authority that can decide the matter

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(The Media Line) A ruling restricting the freedom of movement and travel of adult men and women issued on Sunday by the Supreme Sharia Court Council in Gaza triggered public outrage among youth and rights activists. But following protests in front of the court and online, the decision “will be reconsidered,” the head of the council announced on Tuesday.

According to the third and fourth provisions of the edict, a man could be prevented from traveling by his father or grandfather if his travel would cause “grave harm,” and a woman is not allowed to travel unless she has the permission of her male guardian, usually her father, though possibly her son or another male relative.

The ruling has been described by rights advocates as “illegal and issued by a non-competent authority.”

“This decision is not within the council’s power at all,” Jameel Sarhan, deputy director general of the Independent Commission for Human Rights in Gaza, told The Media Line.

Sarhan added that “it is not permissible for any authority to restrict rights and freedoms, most notably of movement, of anyone who is over 18, except in accordance with legal justifications that represent a better interest for that person.”

He said that there are no acceptable legal justifications in the current decision, “thus, we call on the supreme court to rescind it.”

It is not permissible for any authority to restrict rights and freedoms, most notably of movement, of anyone who is over 18, except in accordance with legal justifications that represent a better interest for that person.

On Tuesday, Hassan al-Jojo, head of Gaza’s Supreme Judicial Council, said in a dialogue session that the ruling came after many complaints about “girls who left their families and traveled without the permission of their guardians.” He added that the decision is “totally legal and has been issued according to the law.”

However, a harsh response from the Palestinian Authority’s West Bank-based Supreme Judge Department refuted that claim, saying that the Gaza Sharia court did not have the jurisdiction to issue such an edict.

“Palestine’s Supreme Judge Department is the only authority that can decide in this matter and in other civil statuses … thus, Palestinian citizens are not bound by the statement [of Gaza’s Sharia Court Council], and judges of the Sharia courts must not consider it in their judgments,” a statement issued by the department said.

In an attempt to reverse the measure, a number of rights activists and youth protested on Tuesday in front of the Supreme Sharia Council’s gate in central Gaza.

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