February 19, 2014
By Ammar Hamou and Jeremy Hodge
AMMAN: The Islamic State (IS) is making it illegal for children under the age of 13 to work within its territory after a recent UNICEF report denounced the group and others for using children as soldiers and executioners.
The Islamic State announced the new policy earlier this week, reported grassroots media group A-Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.
“Children as young as 12 are undergoing military training and …in some cases, they have been used as suicide bombers and to carry out executions,” last week’s UNICEF report said, referring specifically to Iraq and Syria.
IS justified the move to prevent children under 13 from working as an attempt to prevent exploitation of children according to media campaign A-Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.
Children in A-Raqqa city this week, with one dressed in Islamic State garb. Photo courtesy of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.
Few school options exist for children living in Islamic State-controlled territory. Preventing them from working means such children will have fewer ways to occupy their time, a fact IS officials can exploit to justify their recruitment of children as soldiers, Silently Slaughtered says.
Due to a lack of facilities and resources, children over the age of 13 do not attend school in A-Raqqa and other territories controlled by IS, Farat al-Wafa’, a citizen journalist in the provincial capital told Syria Direct on Wednesday.
“IS imposes strict conditions and requirements on those it allows to teach in territory it controls,” he said.
“Most teachers present in the city before and immediately after IS’s seizure didn’t meet these standards and were seen as unqualified. As a result, the city has witnessed a large shortage in teaching staff.”
IS’s Education Office recently announced the release of elementary and middle school curricula, in conjunction with the graduation of the group’s first class of approved sharia law teachers, the media campaign Deir e-Ezzor Under Fire reported on Wednesday.
The campaign posted photos of the Islamic State curriculum, which included courses in Arabic language, natural sciences and ‘mandatory obligations’, a reference to specific acts and duties Muslims are required to observe and perform throughout their life.
Teachers in IS territory who have not already been approved by IS’s Education Office are required to “repent” by the end of the week in a set of pre-approved mosques specified by the Office, with a copy of the annoucement published on Deir e-Ezzor Under Fire’s official Facebook page on Wednesday.
For more from Syria Direct, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.