Syrian rebels have issued a ban on women using make up or wearing “immodest dress” in a neighborhood in the city of Aleppo. Critics have blasted the move as another attempt by Islamists to impose Sharia in rebel-controlled territory.
The fatwa (an order based on Sharia law) was issued by the Islamic law council in Aleppo’s Fardous neighborhood.
“Muslim women are banned from leaving the house in immodest dress, in tight clothing that shows off their bodies or wearing makeup on their face. It is incumbent on all our sisters to obey God and commit to Islamic etiquette,” the statement on the Fardous council’s Facebook page says as cited by Reuters, which reports that Aleppo residents have confirmed the news.
Some of the comments showed support for the ruling, arguing there was nothing wrong in requiring that people follow “certain etiquette in public“. Critics lashed out at the Islamist-led rebels for abusing their power.
The women’s clothing fatwa has been viewed as the latest example of Islamic radicalism growing within rebel-controlled Syrian areas.
A video released a few days ago features public beheadings of alleged Assad loyalists.
The executed men were Christians according to some media reports, with one of the dead being a priest. Various local sources have accused Jabhat al Nusra – the Al Qaeda-affiliated radical Islamist group opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad– of carrying out the killings.
At the beginning of June a teenage boy in the northern city of Aleppo was allegedly executed for blasphemy in front of his family by an al-Qaeda-affiliated opposition group.
But European MP Nick Griffin, who was in Damascus with a fact-finding delegation in June, argues Syrians are not going to accept the implementation of harsh Sharia laws.
“We’ve been able to talk with ordinary Syrians at all sorts of different levels. Something that comes out from all those people who we speak to is that Syria wasn’t perfect, but it was a secular and tolerant state where no one even cared if someone was Sunni or Shia or Christian or Jewish,” Griffin told RT after his visit.
Imposing Sharia could backfire against the anti-Assad forces as the most recent events in Egypt suggest. The 2011 revolt saw Islamists come to power in the North African state and attempt to push through a Sharia constitution. The move eventually sparked an even greater uprising, with millions now in the streets protesting the “islamization” of their country.
“All [Morsi] has done is introduce or he tried to introduce that fundamental constitution that would turn Egypt into a Sharia state. Most Egyptians don’t want that. They want to have their religion in private, but not to have the state dictate to them exactly what it is going to look like,” political analyst and author William Engdahl told RT.