Saturday, December 07, 2013

Raqqa, Syria's First Rebel-Freed City, Now An Islamic Hell

It's sad really, the Syrian revolution started as an effort to bring freedom and democracy to a country run by a nasty dictator, albeit a secular one. But what they have managed to do was replace that nastiness with something far worse.

An article on Al Arabiya talks about what happened to the city of Raqqa in eastern Syria. Initially referred to as the "bride of the revolution," it was the first city to gain freedom from Bashar al-Assad's forces back in March. At the time, the people there were elated. But not so much now that the rebel forces- the likes of the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL)-  that took control of the city have turned the place into an Islamic hell.

“At the time we were all happy with the liberation, it was not important who was there. Raqqa was for all Syrians and all those who helped liberate it,” said one of several residents and activists contacted by Reuters via Skype.


In the weeks that followed, prisons appeared in public buildings, electricity was cut off and shops were banned from selling tobacco, considered anti-Islamic by the ultra-puritan, masked Islamist fighters who began patrolling the city.

“They also closed the universities saying that because women are also taking lessons there it should be shut,” said a resident whose son is a media activist and is now wanted by the Islamists.
“When Raqqa was liberated we thought now that the regime is out, the era of freedom has begun. People started cleaning the streets. We thought we were living a dream,” said another resident who, like most Raqqa locals, declined to be named for their safety. “It was dream. They killed it.”
Public executions have become commonplace, churches have been burned, and the streets empty out by nightfall since the only buildings that have electricity are the ones the rebels stole.

Many of the activists  have left, blaming the Free Syrian Army for basically handing over the city to the jihadists. One activist, no longer living there, had this to say:
“All the FSA cared for was stealing and accumulating money. From the first day of Raqqa’s liberation they left it to the Islamic State."

I think Syria, at this point, is a lost cause.

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