GAZA, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip say safety concerns and social traditions, not Islamic religious values, are the main reason behind a decision to ban women from riding motorbikes and scooters.
In a decision which would raise eyebrows in Rome or Rio de Janeiro, the Interior Ministry said it was banning women from riding two-wheelers or being pillion passengers, to limit accidents and to "protect community values".
Spokesman Ehab Al-Ghsain said the decision was taken after they found that women riding behind their husbands or male relatives were a prime reason for accidents in recent weeks.
"We have taken a series of decisions to limit accidents and avoid loss of lives. Men carrying women behind them on motorcycles caused accidents and did not match our social traditions," he said. "The image looked odd."
Human Rights groups say Hamas is gradually imposing a strict Islamic code on the 1.5 million Palestinians of Gaza.
Gaza couples complain of being stopped by police and asked for papers to prove they are married, and men have been told to cover up on the beach.