GAZA, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Aya Rachi, a 11-year-old girl from Gaza, did not pay much attention to the female preacher's speech. Wearing a worn-out sweater, she seems to be only interested in receiving robes and headscarf for free.
"I want to receive a veil just like all the other girls, and I will wear a Hijab (headscarf) with it," said Rachi, one of the girls and women who get veils and robes for free under the Hamas Islamic veil project.
"I came because I can't afford new garments," she said.
Rachi's case is very common in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Having been under a tight Israeli blockade for more than three years, people living there are suffering from poverty.
Hamas movement has recently initiated a project in cooperation with the Association of Young Muslim Women, to give away free robes to girls in secondary schools according to their residence areas.
Since the Islamic Hamas movement has seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, and routed secular President Mahmoud Abbas security forces, Hamas has been trying to implement the Islamic law in the Gaza Strip, mainly at schools, institutions and courts by imposing the Islamic dress or Hijab on women.
The first two neighborhoods that Hamas began with, were al-Tuffah and Sheja'eya in eastern Gaza City, where girls gathered and were taught about the necessity of wearing the Hijab to conceal their bodies.
Within brief moments, al-Tuffah sports hall was packed. Middle aged women came with their young daughters to receive long robes and dresses promised by Hamas.
Safaa Shallah, a board member of the Young Muslim Association affiliated with Hamas, said that "the goal of this project is to disseminate the Islamic dress code and effectively eliminate the wanton behavior."
She said that the project will be implemented at two stages, the first stage which started this week, would include the distribution of 600 Islamic uniforms in the two neighborhoods, adding that next week another 600 uniforms will be distributed forfree at al-Daraj neighborhood in central Gaza city.
Huda N'eim, a Hamas activist told Xinhua that "wearing the Hijab will be the first step towards implementing the Islamic law," adding that "the Western communities disapprove women who wear the Hijab in a bid to prevent women from wearing it in their own countries."
However, the deposed government of Hamas movement has officially denied that it is trying to implement the Islamic law in the Gaza Strip. But the campaign of Islamic virtue carried out and supported by officials in Hamas government had drawn concerns over the Islamization of Gaza.
Asmaa al-Ghoul, an activist in women's rights in Gaza, said that "human beings have the freedom to express their opinions and beliefs."
Al-Ghoul, who had faced troubles with Hamas security officers last summer when she walked on Gaza beach without covering her head with a scarf, went on saying that "if religion is used to exploit one's mind and impose certain policies on individuals, then it is unacceptable."
Nour el-Masri, who also lives in Gaza city and wears a veil, said governments and institutions should not impose certain values on people.
"If the government or any benevolent society wants to help the people, they should do it without expecting political returns," said el-Masri.
Special Report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts