A Palestinian minister has caused controversy in Gaza over his characterization of a traditional dance – which he characterized as an unintelligible nuisance.
Hamas’ Minister of Culture Attallah Abu al-Subuh shared his views on Palestinian Dahiyya, a rhythmic group dance with deep roots in Bedouin culture, in a Facebook post last Thursday. He called the dance “one of the biggest noise pollutants” and describing the singing that often goes with it as loud and indecipherable. “The words are ridiculous, I can never understand it”, he continued.
The comments did not go down well.
Many Palestinians expressed their fury over the remarks, with many objecting, in particular, to al Subuh’s use of the word “ja’eer”, meaning raucous and noisy. A report by Al Quds news noted that the heavy cultural weight of Dahiyya, which is considered a treasured and artistic part of Bedouin heritage, amplified the offense – as did tension over the Bedouin place in Palestinian national identity.
Some responses even extended to the street, as Bedouin groups in the Gaza Strip organized an event to celebrate Al-Dahiyya. Several Bedouin tribes demanded apology from al-Subuh, and issued statements denouncing the comments and asking Hamas to intervene.
The Al-Hnajerh and Al-Sawarka tribes were also reported to have implied that they were using legal and tribal procedures against Subuh, and making him pay for insulting Al-Dahiyya.
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