BAGHDAD: Militants from the Al-Qaeda offshoot group ISIS have warned women in Iraq’s 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,” an ISIS statement said. “This is not a restriction on her freedom but to prevent her from falling into humiliation and vulgarity or to be a theater for the eyes of those who are looking.”
A religious figure 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,” said ISIS.
ISIS, which now calls itself the Islamic State, has been systematically stamping out any religious or cultural influences they deem non-Islamic since their lightning sweep through the north.
U.S. military and Iraqi security officials estimate ISIS has at least 3,000 fighters in Iraq, rising toward 20,000 when new recruits since last month’s advance are included.
ISIS provided guidelines on how women should dress in Mosul, one of Iraq’s biggest cities. The hands and feet must be covered. Wear shapeless clothes that don’t hug the body. No perfume.
The insurgents run vice patrols in Mosul which answer to a morality committee which has shut Mosul’s college of fine arts and physical education, knocked down statues of famous poets and banned smoking and waterpipes.
Women have been told to never walk unaccompanied by a male guardian. ISIS even ordered shopkeepers to cover their store mannequins with full-face veils. A man was recently whipped in public for sexually harassing a woman.
ISIS views Iraq’s majority Shiites as infidels who deserve to die and has told Christians to convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death.
The group’s radical views have alarmed many Iraqis, but there are no signs that their leaders will be able to regain control of captured areas anytime soon.
Since the army’s virtual collapse in the face of the Sunni militant onslaught, Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Shiite militias have emerged as the only forces that seem capable of challenging the Islamic State. Several instances of violence have been reported between ISIS and other Sunni insurgent groups that joined the anti-government offensive, but the tension has yet to degenerate into a full-blown conflict. In next-door Syria, ISIS quickly wore out its cautious initial welcome by insurgent groups, who have been in a state of war with ISIS since the beginning of the year in many parts of the country.