The life of Um Khaled, a woman born and raised in the city of Raqqa, had turned upside-down when ISIS militants invaded and captured her beloved city. Immediately after the takeover, the militants forced her husband to join their ranks. She has not heard back from him ever since. She knew that, for the safety of her children, her family can no longer remain in the city, which was being, day by day, destroyed and plundered by the militant group.
ISIS’ takeover of Raqqa, plunged the residents of the city into hardship and misery. ISIS’ brutal and totalitarian style of governance robbed people of even their most fundamental and basic freedoms. Executions, lashings, beating and torture were commonplace for all to see. Through this brutality, the group intended to instil fear into the hearts of its subjects in order to discourage any kind of dissent.
These oppressive conditions were compounded by economic hardships as the group tried to isolate the city from the rest of the world. The price of essential commodities such as food skyrocketed and thousands of people fell into poverty and deprivation.
ISIS would twist and distort the teachings of Islam in order to justify their atrocities and genocidal campaigns. They warped the religion and formed an oppressive ideology and forced everyone to submit to it. For the overwhelming majority of Syrians, the brand of Islam promoted by ISIS was so far away from the true teachings of Islam.
This view was was passionately expressed by Um Khaled who said, “ISIS has nothing to do with religion or Islam, ISIS militants bear no relation to Muslims or Islam.“