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Hamas bans women on motorcycles in Gaza Strip

Hamas takes control of Gaza's Asqa University

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Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip said Thursday safety concerns and social traditions, are behind a ban on women riding motorbikes and scooters; meanwhile the Islamic movement said it taken control of al-Aqsa University in the Gaza strip.

In a decision which would raise eyebrows in Rome or Rio de Janeiro, the Interior Ministry said it was banning women from riding two-wheelers or being pillion passengers, to limit accidents and to "protect community values."

Spokesman Ehab Al-Ghsain said the decision was taken after they found that women riding behind their husbands or male relatives were a prime reason for accidents in recent weeks.

"We have taken a series of decisions to limit accidents and avoid loss of lives. Men carrying women behind them on motorcycles caused accidents and did not match our social traditions," he said. "The image looked odd."

Human Rights groups say Hamas is gradually imposing a strict Islamic code on the 1.5 million Palestinians of Gaza.

Gaza couples complain of being stopped by police and asked for papers to prove they are married, and men have been told to cover up on the beach.

We have taken a series of decisions to limit accidents and avoid loss of lives. Men carrying women behind them on motorcycles caused accidents and did not match our social traditions

Spokesman Ehab Al-Ghsain

Taking control of Aqsa University

Meanwhile, the Islamic movement said it has taken control of al-Aqsa University in the Gaza strip and replaced President Dr. Ali Zaidan Abu Zohri with the university's vice president who is a Hamas leader.

The changes drove the university into a state of turmoil and ignited anger among academics.

Hamas had taken control of the College of science and technology in Khan Younes two year ago, prompting most students to leave the institution.

Al-Aqsa University is the only government university in the Gaza strip. It was formerly under the Palestinian Authority in West Bank.