Attallah Abu al-Sibbah is keen to demonstrate that Hamas is not the Taliban. As the new Palestinian culture minister, he will not be ordering the dynamiting of statues nor forbidding prayers to anyone but Allah. But there are limits – and bellydancing is one of them.

"Bellydancing is naked women. This is not Islamic. The Egyptians come here and do it. And there are a lot of Russian bellydancers in Egypt and they come here too," said Mr Sibbah, 58, an Islamic scholar who joined the cabinet of the Hamas government installed last week.

"People do it indoors, in secret. There’s lots of it," he said.

"If the phenomenon of bellydancing spreads our people might react against it by killing people. We don’t want our people to become like the Taliban."

While foreign governments are exercised over Hamas’s views on Israel, the Islamist party says its primary agenda is domestic reform. It was elected amid a backlash against corruption and maladministration, and is committed to cleaning up government.

But it also says it intends to clean up society, and that is Mr Sibbah’s job. For a start he will ban casinos and see if there is a way to ban the sale of alcohol. He also wants segregation of men and women in places of public entertainment and an end to what he sees as rampant "nakedness".

"There was an Egyptian singer who came and there was big trouble because she was not properly dressed, and some people wanted her and some people didn’t," he said.

"There’s moral corruption. The blue films Israel sends us are quite corrupting. We have to resist them.

"And we’re not going to allow books with any pictures of Madonna in bed."

The Gaza strip’s three big cinemas closed at the beginning of the first intifada in 1987, and never reopened. Mr Sibbah thinks they should start showing films again but he is concerned about what the viewers will see.

"I would open cinemas. It could be an education and help people live better. Hollywood is not all bad. Titanic was a good film, a human film," he said, apparently having cast from his mind the scenes of Kate Winslet disrobed.

But he is less sure about the Oscar-nominated Palestinian film, Paradise Now, which shows the preparation of suicide bombers for an attack on Israelis.

The film’s questioning of suicide attacks does not sit well with a party that glorifies such deaths.

"There are problems, there are some scenes, some observations, some pictures. We can negotiate. I will see it first. If I need to cut it I will cut. This is normal. Every country has censors. But we have no problem showing it," he said.

Mr Sibbah sees moral purification as central to the struggle against Israel, a conflict that has dominated his life. He was just six weeks old when the Israeli army arrived in his village near Ashkelon.

"I have been back several times. All of our village was bulldozed. There is only a petrol station there now," he said.

His family settled in Rafah refugee camp, on the southern tip of the Gaza strip where Mr Sibbah grew up to teach in a United Nations school for some 15 years and then lecture in law at the Islamic university.

Mr Sibbah was jailed five times by the Israelis, for a total of three years, as a result of his Hamas activities.

But he is keen to demonstrate that Hamas respects all religions.

"We’re not the Taliban. We love Jesus. We love Moses," he said, before summoning a Christian worker at the ministry to demonstrate his good intentions.

Abuline Darsi duly arrived, head uncovered and a silver crucifix dangling from her neck.

"She’s our sister," said Mr Sibbah. "She’s our employee here. We’re not going to do anything bad to her."

Ms Darsi shuffled awkwardly. Was she concerned when Hamas came to power? "A little bit, as a Christian. Now it’s changed. Now I’ve met the minister," she said, and darted off.