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Hamas sheikh banned from delivering sermons

Aug. 16, 2010 4:28 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 17, 2010 4:53 A.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- A Hamas-affiliated lawmaker and Muslim religious leader says the Palestinian Authority has banned him from delivering Friday sermons in the West Bank.

Hamid Al-Beitwa, who has delivered sermons at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem, told Ma'an the decision came from the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs.

Sheikh Al-Beitwa described the move as "an attempt to devalue the real role of mosques," and confusing given his 40 years of experience, 10 as the main preacher at Al-Aqsa.

The ministry's Nablus office director Salim Al-Ashqar defended the ban, saying the decision was part of an overall agreement within the ministry to ensure preachers abide by the its instructions. "I informed Sheikh Beitawi of the decision in a very friendly way. He is a lawmaker and he does not deliver Friday sermons anyway," Al-Ashqar said.
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