The festival was then moved to Cairo, where the participants talked about what a hellhole Gaza turned out to be under Hamas (after the perfunctory Israel-bashing):
The closing ceremony of the fifth Palestine Festival of Literature (aka Palfest) was overshadowed by politics as writers who returned from a trip to the Gaza Strip gave their testimony on the situation there and described Hamas’s “repressive rule.”
Most of the writers who visited Gaza had one opinion with respect to cultural activities in Gaza: “deplorable.” They say the aim appears to be to erase the Palestinian character and culture, which gave the world thinkers and poets like Mahmoud Darwish and Edward Said.
Professor of English Literature Sahar El-Mougy said that there’s a deplorable condition of cultural hunger. There aren’t even cinemas, libraries, or shops that sell books on the arts, philosophy or literature. The only available books are those on Islamic Sharia (Islamic jurisprudence) and Fiqh (thinking).
“There’s a conspiracy against the Palestinian character, to destroy its beauty. Hamas is erasing Palestinian culture, replacing it with an extremist version of Islam. They don’t even allow men and women to be in the same place!” El-Mougy objected.
“But through all this, and despite the security and intelligence, who we saw everywhere in Gaza, students we met have the spirit of resistance — not against Israel this time, but against the repressive practices of Hamas.”
“When we started writing workshops with young girls in schools, they first wrote about resistance against Israel,” said El-Mougy. “But when we showed them that writing could also express your inner feelings, the results were magnificent. Girls started to realise that writing is also about the self.”
El-Mougy says that Hamas, the resistance movement against occupation, became itself a movement of repression. “Hamas stands between Palestinians and life.”