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Last Updated: Friday, 1 July, 2005, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
Hamas council bans music festival
Hamas supporters during a night-time rally
Hamas triumphed in the local elections in May
A Hamas-led town council in the West Bank has banned outdoor music and dance performances planned as part of a summertime Palestinian festival.

A Qalqilya council spokesman said it was partly to avoid damaging the grass.

But he also said the council had been elected to protect the conservative values of the city, which included not approving of men and women mixing.

In May the militant Hamas won the West Bank town's elections, ousting the mainstream Fatah party.

Parliamentary challenge

Outdoor plays and concerts are being held across the West Bank this month as part of the Palestine International Festival.

"We were elected by a segment of people that wants us to preserve the conservative values of the city," council spokesman Mustafa Sabri told Reuters.

"The prevailing values reject mixing of the sexes. The people of Qalqilya have praised our move."

There are concerns that Hamas is trying to use its political power in Qalqilya to advance its social views.

The chief organiser of the event, Eman Hamouri, said the council's decision was not acceptable.

"We condemn this and we have sought the help of the Palestinian parliament to discuss this serious issue," he said.

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