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Hamas minister lifts "beard ban" on policemen

Written by: Staff
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GAZA, Apr 3 (Reuters) A ban has been lifted on Palestinian policemen growing beards, a symbol of Islamic piety, a spokesman for Interior Minister Saeed Seyam of Hamas said today.

Military regulations banning beards have been largely ignored anyway since a Palestinian uprising erupted in 2000. But with the inauguration of a Hamas government last week, the rule has been formally ended, said spokesman Khaled Abu Hilal.

''They will have to keep their beards neat and appear well-groomed,'' Abu Hilal said.

Hamas, a militant Islamic group, crushed the long-dominant Fatah faction in a parliamentary election in January.

One officer, who declined to be identified, told Reuters that although no policemen had been fined or imprisoned recently for growing beards, some had received notices ordering them to shave.

Abu Hilal said Seyam ''ordered that mistreatment be stopped immediately and that (policemen) be allowed to grow their beards''.

REUTERS OM RAI1902

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