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21 Jan, 2014 18:20

Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists impose Islamic rules, ban music, shisha in Syrian province

Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists impose Islamic rules, ban music, shisha in Syrian province

An Al-Qaeda-linked group has issued new decrees restricting the personal freedoms of the Syrians in the areas under its control in Raqqa province. New laws prohibit music and smoking cigarettes and shisha. Violators will be “punished by sharia law.”

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (abbreviated as ISIS or ISIL) has issued four statements that decree new laws on Monday. The new laws come into force three days later, the group said, i.e. January 23.

Starting on that day, women are obliged to wear the niqab, or full face veil, and cover their hands with gloves. They will also not be allowed in public without a male guardian. Walking late at night will also be prohibited for the women of Raqqa, the first and only city to have fallen completely under the jihadist group’s control.

“Any sister who does not comply with this moral code will be punished by the rules of sharia, her male guardian will also be punished,” reads the statement, cited by the Syrian Observatory of Human rights.

In its second statement, the jihadist group has also prohibited music from being played in public and photographs of people being posted in shop windows.

It has also declared selling music CDs or musical instruments illegal, and the playing of scandalous music in cars or shops will be strictly forbidden.

The ISIL has explained the ban saying that musical instruments and singing are “proscribed in Islam because they distract from remembering God and the Quran.”

The sale of cigarettes and shisha water pipes has also been banned across the beleaguered province.

“Whoever insists on selling these products will have the quantity in his possession burnt and will be punished under sharia law,” reads the third statement.

The group demands that all shop owners shut their stores 10 minutes prior to calls to prayers and absolutely all men must head to the mosque and “fulfill God's commandment rather than sitting in the street and talking while Muslims are in their mosques.”

“Whoever is found outside at the time of prayer” will be punished.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant retook full control of the Syrian city of Raqqa, after fierce fighting for the northern provincial capital on January 14. Clashes between ISIL and coalitions of rival Islamist and moderate rebels erupted nearly two weeks ago.

The group is holding hundreds of rival rebels, activists and journalists captive, among them Westerners, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said last week.

In its report in December, Amnesty International accused an Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group of abductions, torture, killings, sharia courts, and secret prisons with “inhuman” conditions. The report revealed victims included children as young as eight.