Vice News reporter Medyan Dairieh's unprecedented video series on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria continues with its third installment today, in which Dairieh shadows the religious police through their Syrian capital, Raqqa, and visits prisoners whose "crimes" involved not being sufficiently Muslim.
Before right-wing Islamophobes get their store-bought cammies in a twist, it's important to point out that not all sharia is created equal. There are multiple schools of Islamic jurisprudence, and few are as strict as the willy-nilly young-man-fueled fascism of the Islamic State or the better-known Taliban. But it's equally important to know what true extremism looks like. And this is it.
Meet Abu Obida, a leader of the Hisbah, the Islamic State's religious police. He and his colleagues prowl the streets like beat cops looking for inadequately religious civilians to browbeat, or arrest.
Abu Obida also does the important work of leering at women to see if there are any leer-worthy curves visible beneath their veils. If so, he takes his complaint to the husband, who is never far from his wife on the street:
Hey, this is important stuff.
Like, really important:
Presumably, God also commanded a vanguard of men like Abu Obida to stare deeply at those women. You know, for propriety.
You may get the impression that these Hisbah men are important as they float around town, sporting a whipping cane and an AK-47 and visiting all the shopkeepers to make sure their businesses are on the up-and-up. Which is why they're sometimes beseeched by people on the street to release friends from prison:
Because, after all, what Islamic State magistrate will listen to a lowly man on the street?
Who are these prisoners, anyway? Dairieh was permitted to visit with some of them in their common cell—with Hisbah supervision, of course. Their crimes include:
Having booze, mainly. Also, drugs or an occasional cigarette, and even cursing.
Their punishment is always physical.
One man, arrested for drug use, professes nothing but love for the Islamic State, whose religious "education" in prison has shown him the error of his ways. That is a narrative common to all the prisoners Dairieh visited. But it may not be enough for the drug convict when he goes to sentencing; drug offenses are often punished by execution.
There are two more parts to Dairieh's video series. In the next one, he will cover how the Islamic State treats practitioners of minority religions like Christianity and the Yazidi faith. It will likely make difficult viewing.
Update: Here's chapter four. Some really charming kids in there, talkin' bout America-destructin' and Europe-blightin'.