In recent weeks, Gaza residents have been jolted awake in the dead of night to a raucous mixture of Quranic verses, Islamic supplications and prayers delivered by loudspeakers to their doorsteps.
The “Grand Fajr Campaign” is the work of fervent Islamic propagandists affiliated with the ruling Hamas terror group, seeking to radicalize Muslims in an already deeply conservative society. But not everyone is ready to listen.
The Fajr, or “Dawn,” campaign has set off a heated debate over whether it is appropriate to force religion on the masses. One leading religious scholar has even warned that it is un-Islamic to “annoy” people.
Devout Muslims pray five times a day, and activists say they want to make sure that people catch the first and most important of the prayers at their local mosques.
After beginning in several Gaza City neighborhoods, the campaign has spread to areas across Gaza.
The organizers, mostly mosque committees reporting to the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Religious Affairs, say they want to see the mosques as full at dawn as at the noon prayer on Friday, the highlight of the Islamic week.
Muslim terrorist Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ leader, has endorsed the effort, with his office distributing pictures showing him and other Hamas terrorists surrounded by dozens of worshippers after praying at a mosque in Shati, where he lives.
When the morning prayer patrols began, residents were perplexed by the raucous sound outside their homes. The only time anything similar occurs is during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, when drummers wander through the streets waking people to remind the faithful to eat their pre-dawn meal before starting their daylong fasts.
Dozens of mosques now take part in the daily pre-dawn displays.
But opposition has emerged over the forceful tactics, which include the use of powerful car-mounted loudspeakers.