The woman who dares to wear pants


November 11, 2013

LONE PROTESTER: In this short video made by AbouNaddara films, an unnamed teacher from A-Raqqa province talks about why she spends up to two hours every day protesting in front of the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham [Levant] building in A-Raqqa city, the provincial capital.

ISIS “takes advantage of peoples’ fear and it makes them feel more powerful,” the woman says. ISIS controls the city and much of the province – the only one fully in rebel control. “They kidnap, they steal, they arrest,” she says, adding “and no one can complain because we don’t know who they are.”

Most ISIS fighters are Arabs and Muslims from countries other than Syria. In A-Raqqa, located in north-central Syria on the north bank of the Euphrates 100 miles east of Aleppo, citizens have held dozens of protests denouncing the arbitrary arrests conducted by ISIS members in front of their headquarters. This unnamed woman, 30 years old, holds her own one-woman protest every day.

People passing by give her the thumbs up, but don’t speak up. “They don’t have the courage – they’d be signing her death warrants,” she says.

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ISIS has been accused of taking hundreds of anti-regime fighters hostage since they captured the city in March and enforcing their extreme interpretation of Islam in areas under their control.

“What bothers them is that I am a woman,” the unnamed teacher said, “and that I wear pants and not an abayya [Islamic gown].”

The woman faces harassment from the ISIS guards, including from one boy recruit who was her former student.“He came to me to say hi, but they forbade him by order of the emir [Prince],” the teacher said.

The Syrians who have joined ISIS are brainwashed, she says.

The Britain-based opposition’s Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said earlier this week that fighters from the Kurdish Protection Units were able to expel ISIS from the town of Ras al-Ain, a rural town in A-Raqqa close to the Turkish border with a Kurdish majority.

Video posted with thanks to AbouNaddara films.

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