Syria: “Moderate rebels” in Idlib call for strict “religious modesty in dress” for women

“Return to the hijab, sisters”, says one of the signs held by these women in the city of Idlib.

Syria Direct, a “pro-opposition” Syrian news outlet, reports:

Dozens of men and several women demonstrated in Idlib city on Monday [October 5] calling for the city’s female residents to adhere to stricter norms of religious modesty in dress, according to pictures and a video [see below] on social media […]

The demonstrations were held by Jund al-Aqsa, al-Idlibi [a Idlib journalist affiliated with the Islamist group Victory Army] said, adding that the women were the wives of the group’s members.

Flanked by fighters in military fatigues, nine women and girls wearing the khimar (a head-to-toe black covering) and carrying signs imploring their fellow women to “return to the hijab, sisters” walked behind dozens of male demonstrators wearing a mixture of civilian and military clothing in images and a video posted to pro-opposition social media on Monday.

“Where is God’s law? In women’s clothing,” signs carried by the women read on Monday.

As most of Idlib’s women already wear the hijab, or headscarf, the demonstrators seemed to call for adherence to stricter interpretations of religious dress. […]

Jund al-Aqsa is one of the groups that fought with the Victory Army rebel coalition to capture Idlib city from regime forces this past March. Accusations of their involvement in the assassination of another group’s leader this past July as well as the alleged defection of 50 of its fighters to the Islamic State in August have put them at odds with other factions.

Al-Idlibi denied that Jabhat a-Nusra, one of the most prominent Islamist groups in Idlib province fighting with the Victory Army, had a hand in organizing Monday’s demonstration.

Jabhat a-Nusra  “does not recognize Jund al-Aqsa, and considers them Islamic State agents,” al-Idlibi said.

However, JAN has forcibly imposed the hijab in the past, a resident of the Druze-majority Jabal al-Summaq region in the northern Idlib countryside told Syria Direct in an interview this past March.

“JAN impose their strict interpretation of Islam upon us, forcing women to cover their faces [and] preventing men and women from mixing in public.”


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