ISIS enforces strict rules in northern Syrian city

ISIS forced women in the city to cover themselves head-to-toe, as well as banning music and tobacco products

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The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Syria-based Islamist militant group, has imposed strict rules in Syria’s northern city of Raqqah, after gaining complete control in the beginning of this year.

Rules established by ISIS in a statement released by the group last year include banning music, singing and smoking, as well as making head-to-toe coverings for women mandatory.

According to the new regulations, which carry the threat of harsh penalties for violators, women must be fully clothed with abaya (a loose fitting cloak commonly worn by Muslim women) the hijab (head covering scarf), niqab (face-covering veil) and gloves.

Additionally, women may not walk down the street without a male relative present, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.
Some residents in Raqqah are vocal against the ban.

“Both Muslims and Christians have lived together in Raqqah,” said Fatima, a resident. “Even at home when we go out into the balcony we have to go out veiled. We are not used to these suppressions of personal freedoms here,” she added.

Another resident, Aisha, claims that women who do not comply with the clothing rules have faced whippings and even execution.
“These things have been forced on us through the power of the sword,” she said. “People now have to either wear the veil or be executed.”

The hardline group has also issued a total ban on music in the city - along with pictures of men and women in store fronts.
Under the rules, the playing of music and the sale of music CDs, musical equipment is banned.

A third ruling stated a complete ban on cigarettes and tobacco-related products. First-time violators caught selling cigarettes will have their stock burnt, while repeat offenders will have their shops burned down, according to a statement released by the group.

“If they see anyone holding a pack of cigarettes he will receive a couple of lashes,” said a Raqqa-based driver. “At the same time, if they find a place that sells cigarettes, they will burn their entire inventory, put him in jail, and whip him.”

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