KHAN YUNIS, GAZA STRIP—About 70 men with big muscles and small shorts posed and flexed on stage before a panel of judges and a few thousand fans, all seeking prizes in the Gaza bodybuilding championship.
But the sight of men lathered in oil and wearing little more than underwear on stage was unusual for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, where the Islamist militant group has imposed a so-called virtue campaign that mandates head scarves and form-concealing gowns for women and girls in government offices and schools.Of course, this being the Toronto Star, it's pretty much obligatory to get in a swipe at Israel and, if at all possible, to bury the lede (which I have taken the liberty of highlighting):
As part of its campaign, Hamas strongly encourages such dress elsewhere, and its policemen have recently forced men to wear shirts on the beach and asked mixed couples seen together to prove they are married or related.
But Hamas doesn't reject bodybuilding — as long as only men are around to see it.
Participants said their sport — along with just about every other aspect of life in Gaza — has been hurt by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after the Islamic militant group Hamas seized the territory from forces loyal to Palestinians President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.Aren't they sort of working for Hamas anyway by participating in its
The closure keeps even the buffest contestants from competing outside the territory.
On the other hand, some of the musclemen have had more time to train since Hamas took over. Many of the Gaza bodybuilders are former security men loyal to Abbas and continue to draw a salary from his West Bank government, on condition that they stay home and not work for Hamas.