Two Lebanese Shiite Muslim women, weep as they listen to the story of the death of Imam Hussein, during Ashoura in Beirut's southern suburbs, Lebanon, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013. Ashoura marks the anniversary of the death in the seventh century of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Imam Hussein. His death in a battle outside of the Iraqi city of Karbala sealed Islam's historical Sunni-Shiite split, which still bedevils the Middle East. Ashoura is one of the holiest days of the Muslim Shiite calendar. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
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Islamic jihad extends beyond the inital attack and women suffer the most.
Massacres, beheadings, rapes and the rest often take place whenever and wherever Islamic jihadis take over. Lesser known but often no less troubling, however, is the aftermath of occupation—the everyday “rules” and laws the jihadis enforce once they’re in charge.
Consider the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Levant’s (ISIL) recent occupation of Raqqah, a city in northern Syria. First there was the overt violence. Among other acts of savagery, the jihadi organization attacked two churches—the Church of the Annunciation and the Church of Martyrs—broke their crosses, burned their Bibles, and raised the Islamic flag in triumph. One video depicts a Muslim “freedom fighter” smashing a Virgin Mary statue to shouts of Islam’s war cry, “Allahu Akbar!
Now consider the rules that organizations like ISIL enforce on those people living in the territories they occupy—that is, the inevitable “Talibanization” of societies where Islamic supremacists hold sway. A Syrian news clip recounts the following new laws ISIL promulgated in a statement it issued soon after taking over Raqqah:
- Women are banned from sitting on chairs (as reported verbatim).
- All women are obligated to wear Islamic attire, such as the niqab and burqa (which cover the entire body and face); sweaters, jeans, and makeup of any kind are strictly banned.
- Female clothing is not to be displayed in shop windows, and only women are allowed to work there; if a man is found on the grounds the shop faces closure.
Two Lebanese Shiite Muslim women, weep as they listen to the story of the death of Imam Hussein, during Ashoura in Beirut's southern suburbs, Lebanon, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
- Women are banned from seeing male gynecologists (thus severely hampering their ability to see doctors, most of whom are men in Syria).
- Smoking—cigarettes, water pipes, etc.—is banned. Violators could face the death penalty; shops found selling cigarettes are to be burned to the ground.
- All barbershops are to be closed down and men forbidden from having short hair, wearing modern hairstyles or using hair products; men are also forbidden from wearing low-waist jeans.
- Anyone who uses the word “Daash” (an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in Arabic) will receive 70 whippings; the organization is to be referred to by its proper name.
The punishments are indeed severe: swindling taxi drivers face repercussions ranging from chopped hands to chopped heads; the reason cited is that their swindling may somehow interfere with a passenger’s worship (e.g., a Muslim seeking to go to mosque at the proper time). Likewise, shop owners who do not shut down during prayer times must face the consequences.
All this is a reminder that, while the Islamic jihad may lead to brief, spectacular forms of terror—massacres, beheadings, rapes, bombed churches and the like—its aftermath and goal, purportedly the creation of a “perfect Islamic society,” is “spectacular” in its own way, especially for women, who become virtually invisible members of society.
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