08/04/2013 12:28 BST | Updated 08/04/2013 12:35 BST

Hamas Police Condemned For 'Arresting & Beating Young Palestinians For Indecent Hairstyles'

A human rights group has condemned Palestinian police for allegedly arresting, beating and cutting the hair of young men found to have “indecent” hairstyles.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) says the incidents occurred in the Gaza Strip and has called for an investigation into what it calls “a violation of civil rights”.

In a statement released on Sunday, the PCHR said: “According to investigations conducted by PCHR, over the three past days, the Palestinian police stopped a number of young men, who were walking in different areas in the Gaza Strip, and took them to police stations under the pretext that their hairstyle was 'indecent'.

Ayman al-Sayed, 19, right, used to have shoulder-length hair but claims his head was shaved by police. Mohammed Hanouna, 18, left, still wears a style that is apparently unacceptable

“The hair of the men was cut while they were in detention. Some of the men were also beaten while in detention. Finally, the detainees were forced to sign a statement declaring they would not grow long hair or have a strange hairstyle, or wear ‘low-waisted trousers’ again.”

The PCHR quotes an account from one man who claimed to have been in police custody for two hours during an incident last week.

Police spokesman Ayman al-Batinji confirmed to AFP some young people had been forced to get their hair cut, in a move he said was related to “inappropriate behaviour” on the streets.

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"We received several complaints from headmasters saying a number of boys are hanging around on the streets and harassing girls," he said in a statement, adding police had begun the crackdown following "complaints" last week.

But he denied claims of police brutality, saying their treatment of the youngsters was "not as harsh as it appears.”

The Jerusalem Post points out that Hamas earlier this year banned tight-fitting or low-riding trousers and women from smoking or appearing in public without wearing the hijab.

And in March the UN cancelled a planned marathon in Gaza after Hamas banned women from participating.

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