‘Dignity, honor and pride’: Raqqa Sheikh wins cloak back after downing of statue
A sheikh from the Syrian city of Raqqa can now wear his Arab cloak again after the country’s opposition forces seized the control of northeastern city.
Sheikh Faisal al-Hassan al-Sayah, one of the tribal heads in Raqqa city, vowed during a TV interview dated May 29, 2011, to never ever wear his cloak or “bisht” in Arabic until the statue of the late Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, also wearing the Arab garment, is destroyed.
“Oh people of Al-Raqqa, oh tribes of Sabkha, Abadla, Wilda and Nasr…I have forbid myself from wearing the bisht until this statue collapses and this regime ends.”
In the interview, Sheikh Sayah took off his bisht and urged other sheikh to do the same. In the Arabic culture, the bisht symbolizes “dignity, honor and pride,” making it unacceptable for a ruler, referred to as brutal dictator, to be wearing it.
In a scene similar to the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad on April 2003, Syrians beat the late president’s one after it was brought to ground.
Raqqa was once home to 240,000 residents, but some 800,000 people forced to flee violence in other parts of Syria have sought shelter there ever since the start of the conflict.