Iraq: Isis warns women to wear full veil or face punishment

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Sunni insurgents issue guidelines in mosques on how clothes should be worn to prevent women ‘from falling into vulgarity’

An Iraqi woman in Baghdad‘Anyone who is not committed to this duty and is motivated by glamour will be subject to accountability.’ Photograph: Ali Al-Saadi/AFP/Getty Images

Islamic State (Isis), the al-Qaida offshoot that seized large swathes of northern Iraq last month, has warned women in the city of Mosul to wear full-face veils or risk severe punishment.

The Sunni insurgents, who have declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria and have threatened to march on Baghdad, also listed guidelines on how veils and clothes should be worn, part of a campaign to violently impose their radical brand of Islam.

“The conditions imposed on her clothes and grooming was only to end the pretext of debauchery resulting from grooming and overdressing,” the group said in a statement. This is not a restriction on her freedom but to prevent her from falling into humiliation and vulgarity or to be a theatre for the eyes of those who are looking.”

A cleric in Mosul told Reuters that Isis gunmen had shown up at his mosque and ordered him to read their warning on loudspeakers when worshipers gather.

“Anyone who is not committed to this duty and is motivated by glamour will be subject to accountability and severe punishment to protect society from harm and to maintain the necessities of religion and protect it from debauchery,” Isis said.

The insurgents, formerly called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, have been systematically stamping out any religious or cultural influences they deem non-Islamic since their lightning sweep through the north.

map-isil-2014-06US military and Iraqi security officials estimate Isis has at least 3,000 fighters in Iraq, rising towards 20,000 when new recruits since last month’s advance are included.

Isis has provided guidelines on how women should dress in Mosul, one of Iraq’s biggest cities. Their hands and feet must be covered, shapeless clothes that don’t hug the body must be worn and perfume is prohibited. Women have also been told to never walk unaccompanied by a male guardian. Isis has even ordered shopkeepers to cover their store mannequins with full-face veils.

The insurgents run vice patrols in Mosul that answer to a morality committee, which has shut the city’s college of fine arts and physical education, knocked down statues of famous poets and banned smoking and water pipes.

A man was recently whipped in public for sexually harassing a woman.

Isis militants view Iraq’s majority Shias as infidels who deserve to be killed and have told Christians to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death. Their radical views have alarmed Iraqis, but there are no signs their leaders will be able to regain control of captured areas.

“Since the army’s virtual collapse in the face of the Sunni militant onslaught, Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Shi’ite militias have emerged as the only forces that seem capable of challenging Isis.”

Political paralysis has eroded faith in Iraqi leaders. Politicians have been in deadlock over forming a new government since an election in April, and the next step – choosing a prime minister – may prove more difficult.

Iraq’s parliament elected a senior Kurdish lawmaker president on Thursday, a significant step in a delayed process to create a government capable of uniting the country and countering insurgents.

The Shi’ite prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, has ruled since the election in a caretaker capacity, defying demands from minority Sunnis and Kurds that he step aside for a less divisive figure. Even some fellow Shi’ites oppose his bid for a third term.

Critics say Maliki has alienated Sunnis, deepening sectarian divisions that have benefited Isis.

So, what is ISIS? And is it even ISIS, or is it ISIL?

iraq_map_isis_land_690The world’s most committed and fanatical radical organization has only recently gone by its current name, after the unrecognized Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) was proclaimed in April last year. Al-Sham has been most commonly translated from Arabic as the Levant, hence ISIL.

It was previously known as Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic State of Iraq.

Follow RT’s LIVE UPDATES on ISIS offensive in Iraq

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