January 8, 2024 | Flash Brief

Hamas Abducts Muslim Cleric for Refusing to Preach Propaganda

January 8, 2024 | Flash Brief

Hamas Abducts Muslim Cleric for Refusing to Preach Propaganda

Latest Developments

An admired mosque preacher has been kidnapped after a rare act of dissent within Gaza’s Hamas-controlled religious establishment. The details went public on January 4 after the cleric’s son shared his story with The Free Press as part of the ongoing series Voices from Gaza, a partnership with the Center for Peace Communications.

Sheikh Mohammed Mushtaha, imam at the Dhu ‘l-Nurayn mosque in Shuja’iyah, refused instructions to praise the terror group in a sermon at an area school where thousands of displaced persons were sheltering. On December 30, Hamas fighters stormed Mushtaha’s residence and seized him violently in the presence of his family.

“My father knows the difference between right and wrong,” wrote his son, Ala Mohammed Mushtaha. “He knew that refusing to act as a megaphone for Hamas could lead to his death, and yet he refused.” Palestinians in Gaza are joining calls for his release: Moumen Al-Natour, a co-organizer of the 2019 anti-Hamas street demonstrations, posted the “demand that the government of Gaza free him right away and without any conditions.”

Expert Analysis

“As Israel gains ground in Gaza, fissures are emerging in institutions Hamas used to control with an iron fist. The ‘day after’ is now as local opponents of Hamas begin to emerge who could play key roles in a post-Hamas administration. The embattled terror group understands this and is using what muscle it has to snuff out dissent.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Hamas has held the people of Gaza hostage for almost two decades. After Israel removes Hamas from Gaza, there will be a window of opportunity for the people of Gaza to build a new reality in the enclave. It is critical that decent men and women seize this opportunity to create a future that offers hope to Gazans. No one is naive enough to believe that Gazans will rush into a warm peace with Israel; what’s more important is that the new leadership that emerges there prioritizes the future of their children over the murder of Israelis.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

Islamic Opposition to Hamas Has Grown

Though the case of Mohammed Mushtaha is unusual, other clerics have also taken bold steps against Hamas. Last spring, the Iraq-based Islamic Fatwa Council issued a fatwa instructing Muslims not to “pray for, support, finance, or fight on behalf of Hamas.” The widely disseminated ruling was followed by a further wave of Gazan street demonstrations against Hamas on July 30, 2023.

10 Things to Know About Hamas,” FDD Insight

Senior Muslim Clerics Issue Fatwa Against Hamas,” FDD Flash Brief

FAQ: Hamas,” by Joe Truzman and Toby Dershowitz


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