Thursday March 21, 2019

IS imposes harsh restrictions on Syria and Iraq during Ramadan

IS is making the holy month difficult for residents of Syria and Iraq by forbidding television, limiting daily working hours and strict dress code for women

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Ramadan. Image source: kemmannu.com
  • The new rules by IS have reduced working hours to two hours per day, rest of the time must be devoted to prayers
  • Satellite Television and other streaming devices are forbidden, says IS
  • IS has forced restaurants and pastry shops to remained closed during the day in Iraq

Islamic State (IS) is imposing a harsh set of rules on residents of areas it controls in Syria and Iraq during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan that began Monday, June 6.

These rules include forbidding the use of satellite TV receivers, limiting the hours of daily work and instituting strict dress codes for women.

IS recently conducted a campaign encouraging people in Syria and Iraq to destroy their television receivers “because they promote a psychological war against the caliphate.”

In a video that circulated among IS followers online, an IS figure talks about “the vices that television channels are bringing to the homes of Muslims which serve the enemy.”

In Raqqa, the IS de facto capital in Syria, IS has carried out a door-to-door search campaign to confiscate satellite television receivers and other streaming devices, according to Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group that reports on IS abuses in Syria.

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The activist group also said that IS has issued a new ruling that limits working hours each day to only two hours. The remaining hours of the day must be devoted to worshipping and prayer, it said.

A Muslim man reading Namaz during Ramadan Image: Wikimedia Commons
A Muslim man reading Namaz during Ramadan
Image: Wikimedia Commons

In Iraq, IS militants vow to stop civilians at checkpoints in Mosul, saying they will only be released if they surrender their television receivers, local news reports in Iraq said.

‘Dos and Don’ts’

Life is very tough for people under IS control during the holy month, officials say.

“Last Friday, imams in Mosul gave instructions to people on ‘dos and don’ts’ during Ramadan and Eid,” said Ismat Rajab, a former local government official in Mosul. This year, the holiday month ends on July 5, and is celebrated with a three-day holiday called Eid al-Fitr.

He said IS religious police in Iraq’s second-largest city have forced restaurants and pastry shops to close during the day. During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk.

Muslim scholars say IS is using Ramadan to further its radical religious views.

Push against West

IS “doesn’t differentiate between Ramadan and other months of the year,” said Sheikh Mohammed Sharaffadine, a scholar of Azhar University, one of the most prestigious Islamic institutions in the world.

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“But during Ramadan, they want to prove to their followers that they are more pious than other Muslims,” he told VOA via phone from Cairo.

People gathered to break fasting in mosque Image: Wikimedia Commons
People gathered to break Ramadan fasting in mosque. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

IS says it wants to spread its violent, anti-West ideology during Ramadan. In an audio message allegedly recorded last month by IS spokesperson Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the group calls on its followers to launch attacks in the United States and Europe during Ramadan.

“Ramadan, the month of conquest and jihad. Get prepared, be ready… to make it a month of calamity everywhere for the non-believers… especially for the fighters and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America,” read the message, suggesting attacks on both military and civilian targets.

In another internet video, an IS narrator offers historical examples of Islamic conquests since the seventh century.

“By such propaganda, they don’t only target their sympathizers,” Saraffadine said of IS. “They also want to embroil ordinary Muslims in Western countries who live in those societies peacefully.” (VOA)

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    The IS should be informed about how outdated their thoughts and restrictions are. They cannot make rules in the name of religion

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US Backed Fighters Say, ‘They Have Taken Position in Islamic State Enclave in Syria’

The enclave resembles an encampment, filled with stationary vehicles and rough shelters with blankets or tarpaulins that could be seen flapping in the wind during a lull in fighting as people walked among them

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US, Islamic state
Fire is seen during fighting in the Islamic State's final enclave, in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria March 17, 2019. VOA

U.S.-backed fighters said they had taken positions in Islamic State’s last enclave in eastern Syria and air strikes pounded the tiny patch of land beside the Euphrates River early on Monday, a Reuters journalist said.

Smoke rose over the tiny enclave as warplanes and artillery bombarded it. Another witness said the jihadists had earlier mounted a counter attack.

“Several positions captured and an ammunition storage has been blown up,” said Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia, on Twitter late on Sunday.

The enclave resembles an encampment, filled with stationary vehicles and rough shelters with blankets or tarpaulins that could be seen flapping in the wind during a lull in fighting as people walked among them.

Backed by air power and special forces from a U.S.-led coalition, the SDF has pushed Islamic State from almost the entire northeastern corner of Syria, defeating it in Raqqa in 2017 and driving it to its last enclave at Baghouz last year.

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The Islamic State group’s last pocket of territory in Baghouz, Syria, as seen from a distance on Sunday, March 17, 2019. VOA

But while its defeat at Baghouz will end its control of populated land in the third of Syria and Iraq that it captured in 2014, the group will remain a threat, regional and Western officials say.

The SDF has waged a staggered assault on the enclave, pausing for long periods over recent weeks to allow surrendering fighters, their families and other civilians to pour out.

Since Jan. 9, more than 60,000 people have left the enclave, about half of them surrendering Islamic State supporters including some 5,000 fighters, the SDF said on Sunday.

People leaving the area have spoken of harsh conditions inside, under coalition bombardment and with supplies of food so scarce some resorted to eating grass.

Last month, the SDF said it had found a mass grave in an area it captured.

Still, many of those who left Baghouz have vowed their allegiance to the jihadist group, which last week put out a propaganda film from inside the enclave calling on its supporters to keep faith.

Suicide attacks on Friday targeted families of Islamic State fighters attempting to leave the enclave and surrender, killing six people, the SDF said.

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Late on Sunday, the Kurdish Ronahi TV station aired footage showing a renewed assault on the enclave, with fires seen to be raging inside and tracer fire and rockets zooming into the tiny area.

The SDF and the coalition say the Islamic State fighters inside Baghouz are among the group’s most hardened foreign fighters, though Western countries believe its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has left the area. (VOA)