The Guardian reports: When Isis took over Raqqa, a wave of black swept over the city. The group’s dark flags were raised where its members lived or worked, women were required to shroud themselves in black, and black paint was daubed on buildings and in public spaces.
When US air strikes started, though, activists warned families not to dry dark clothes outside or on their roofs, in case they were mistaken for Isis flags. Perhaps Isis was worried, too, as it has started repainting everything. One central square, where crucifixion and other gruesome punishments are carried out in public, has been decked out in candy colours – pink, green and white. Another is golden.
Apparently, the pressures of publicity and the mundane and expensive business of ruling a city have pushed even Isis to make some compromises.
Last summer, crimes like smoking or failing to shutter a shop during prayer time would have earned transgressors several dozen lashes, but some religious police have started to accept fines in place of punishment from those who can afford it. There are even reports that they have been forcing traders to stay open through prayers, so that they can collect more money from them – around 1,500 Syrian pounds (around £5) each time.
It is not just money that they are short of. They lack blood for fighters injured in air strikes or on the frontline. People don’t want to donate, so they compel them. Anyone with business at the Islamic court is told first to go to a certain hospital, donate a pint of blood, then return with the receipt. Only then will the case be processed. [Continue reading…]