Hamas Court Hands Comedian 18 Months in Prison Over Mock Beheading Video

Aadel al-Mashwakhi sentenced over video that has circulated on social media since September and shows him ridiculing ISIS

Yehiyeh Sinwar, the Hamas militant group's leader in the Gaza Strip, speaks to foreign correspondents, in his office in Gaza City, May 10, 2018.
Khalil Hamra / AP

A military court run by the Islamist Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip has sentenced a comedian to 18 months in prison for filming a mock Islamic State-style execution.

Aadel al-Mashwakhi, 32, from the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, was given six months in jail for "insulting religious feeling," another six months for "opposing public policy" and yet another six months for displaying "defective behaviour," the local news site Paltimes, which is close to Hamas, reported on Sunday.

Police in Rafah confirmed the Saturday verdict.

A video that has circulated on social media and on YouTube since September shows al-Mashwakhi mocking the radical Sunni group. Standing together with three young men, two of them holding knives, al-Mashwakhi cites a verse from the Koran as a fourth young man, blindfolded, kneels in front of him in the rubble.

"This man's head will be cut off because 10 years ago he stole a bag of pistachios from an old woman, and four years ago he swam in the sea wearing jean shorts 5 centimetres above his knees, in contradiction with Islam," he says in a solemn voice, as those next to him giggle.

Radical Muslims were outraged at the mockery of the rules of Islam.
An extension of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas was founded as an Islamic movement in Gaza in late 1987. In 2007, it took sole control of the Gaza Strip, which it rules according to Islamic law.

Al-Mashwakhi is known in Rafah for having published dozens of funny video clips on YouTube.