A female Christian Syrian activist opposing the rule of President Bashar Assad was abducted by Islamist militants who disapproved of her participating in an outdoor protest while her hair was uncovered, a Middle Eastern social media outlet is reporting.
ANA Press, an Egypt-based outlet that aggregates citizen journalist reports, posted a video this weekend showing Marcell Shehwaro being reprimanded by men belonging to the group “Jeish al Mujahedeen” (Mujahedeen Army) who were trying to enforce strict Islamic rules. They later took her into their custody.
The incident began at a protest in Aleppo which involved creating a memorial banner and planting trees in Jisr al Haj Square in honor of those killed during the civil war, now entering its fourth year.
ANA reported that a commander from the Jeish al Mujahedeen asked the woman to cover her hair with a veil, and asserted that the part of the city in which she was demonstrating was under their control.
Remarkably, Shehwaro held her ground when approached by the men trying to enforce the Islamic custom.
“What can the Sharia authority do it me if I don’t wear a veil?” she asked. “I will not wear a veil. Let the Sharia Authority arrest me. Put an end to this.”
Joshua Landis who is director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and writer of the Syria Comment blog confirmed to TheBlaze that Shehwaro is Christian and is a longtime activist against the Assad government.
“I hate when they judge me by my sect. It’s full of Sunni girls who don’t wear a veil in Syria. What can they do to them?” she said.
According to the report, the men left, but then armed men returned two hours later to try to arrest her. Shehwaro’s fellow activists who were helping her set up the memorial banner scuffled with the Islamist activists to try to defend her.
Still, the report said that the jihadi group managed to abduct her and take her to a location ANA Press referred to as the “Sharia Authority” prison in Aleppo.
Jeish al Mujahedeen later issued a statement according to ANA apologizing for her abduction.
“We deeply regret for what was committed by some individuals as an individual act without a responsible towards the activist Marcell Shehwaro,” the group said according to ANA’s translation.
After she was released, Shehwaro said there is no room for Christians in the revolution.
“I don’t know if you can really escape death. Death is so...it’s not planned. Who was not killed by barrels [Syrian Army barrel bombs] was killed by ISIS [the Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria], and who was not killed by ISIS will die for something else,” she said.
Like almost all amateur videos coming out of Syria that are posted on social media, TheBlaze is unable to confirm the authenticity of the video; however, two prominent Syria-watchers – Landis of the Syria Comment blog and Brown Moses - posted the video on their Twitter feeds.
ANA Press did not note what day the incident occurred, but Shehwaro posted photos of the non-violent protest on her Facebook page on March 17.
Here is the video of the report that ANA Press posted:
(H/T: Joshua Landis)