11 November 2013, 14:53

Hamas gov’t appoints first female spokesperson to soften relations with the West

Hamas gov’t appoints first female spokesperson to soften relations with the West

Isra al Modallal, 23, who spent three years at school in the UK, has become the first female spokesperson for the Hamas government in Gaza.

Isra al Modallal started her new job this week, and is brushing up on human rights law and other issues she will be expected to speak about. She is planning to launch Twitter and Facebook campaigns in the near future to promote Hamas and its policies.

Since completing her degree in media studies at the Islamic university in Gaza, Modallal has worked as a journalist and television presenter. She accepted the job offer as the government's international media spokesperson after considering the opportunity for a while.

She is not a member of Hamas. "I don't belong to any faction. I'm just Palestinian," she said.

Modallal said she would concentrate on human rights and humanitarian issues. "Most people in the world recognize that Palestinians are humans too so the world will understand our message as refugees and people who live under siege," she said.

She said she was conscious of the great responsibilities of the role, especially given her age, but insisted her gender was not an issue.

"Palestinian women take an active role in the street, in organizations, in the media. I have not found any difficulties being a woman. We have all the freedom we need."

Hamas has a female minister in the government, as well as several female legislators. However, Hamas is being widely criticized for putting restrictions on women's social activities and for pressuring women to wear the hijab in public.

Modallal is a divorcee with a four-year-old daughter.

According to Ihab al Ghusain, head of the government media office in Gaza, Modallal's appointment was part of a policy for developing a dialogue with western countries, it was meant to explain the Palestinian issues and Hamas's proposals. It also covers the issue of Palestinian women and their social role in the country.

Voice of Russia, aljazeera.com, theguardian.com

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