Det meldes fra Vestbredden at palestinerne er merkbart mer religiøse. Fatah og Hamas bruker religion som politisk våpen. Men i tillegg søker folk trøst for økende fattigdom og politisk fiendskap.

Det blir stadig vanskeligere for kvinner å gå i skjørt og kortermede overdeler. De får slengt bemerkninger etter seg, selv i det sekulære Ramallah, hovedstaden på Vestbredden.

In traditionally conservative West Bank cities like Hebron, Qalqilya or Tulkarm women have generally worn headscarves. But some say the rise of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and in large West Bank cities like Nablus has prompted more women to wear veils and men to grow beards.

In Ramallah — the West Bank’s economic hub and for years a thriving secular city — some women are adopting more modest dress. Fewer wear short skirts or sleeveless shirts in central Ramallah while more also don a headscarf and long robes.

«Women who do wear short skirts feel out of place or are harassed by comments from men on the streets,» said Eman Hammouri, director of the city’s Popular Arts Centre.

Osama Khalaf, owner of Darna, one of Ramallah’s best known and most fashionable restaurants, said he stopped serving alcohol during Ramadan for fear of retaliation by secular armed groups using religion as an excuse to throw their weight around.

Khalaf said both Muslim and Christian West Bankers, who make up about 2 percent of Palestinians, were becoming more religious amid tougher living conditions. Crucifixes are worn more widely and church attendance appears up.

«Not only the Muslims are becoming more religious,» Khalaf said. «But the Christian minority are also adhering much more strictly to Christianity as a reaction to the more religious environment around them.»

Last month, a woman wearing the hijab and covering her face with a black veil in a doctor’s waiting room shouted at the secretary for watching Arab music videos on television — many Muslims consider such material to be prohibited by Islam.

«This has never happened before in my clinic,» said the doctor, who asked to remain anonymous.

Ramadan shows more West Bankers turn to God