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What you should know about the Islamic State

Facts you should know about the Islamic State and why they are a threat to women.

The Islamic State is a militant Sunni Islamist group that emerged out of the remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq. The group initially comprised loyalists of the former dictator Saddam Hussein and ex-soldiers from his government. However, jihadist militants led by Abu Musab al Zarkawi, a petty criminal who was radicalized in a prison in Jordan, infiltrated its ranks. Zarkawi was killed in a US airstrike in 2006 and was succeeded by Abu Ayyub al Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. They founded the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). After a fallout with al Qaeda central command in Pakistan, the ISI grouped with militants in Syria and founded ISIS.

ISIS has declared an “Islamic State” across the Iraq-Syrian border. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is its Caliph. IS has imposed a severe form of the Sharia law, forcing women to wear veils under threat of execution. The militants have also forced religious minorities in Iraq, like the Christians and Yazidis to flee from their homes. The militants have captured vast swathes of Iraq as the country’s government struggles to maintain control over its regions.

IS militants have seized more than 1,000 women in Iraq. Some estimates have put the figure at 3,000. These women are believed to belong to the Yazidi faith. Militants separated the victims into groups of younger and older women. Eye witnesses say that the younger women were selected specially to marry the jihadists after they converted to Islam. There have also been reports that several Yazidi women were raped and sold into sexual slavery.

Militants of IS claim that women must join the jihad or the Holy War and “cleanse” themselves by sleeping with the organization’s militants. IS fighters have been distributing leaflets to this effect in Mosul and Tikrit – two cities in Iraq which have fallen into the jihadists’ hands. The militants say that those refusing to do so are going against God’s will and will be punished.

Recently, the UN reported that the Islamic State ordered women in Mosul to undergo female circumcision. The UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, Jacqueline Badcock said that the IS issued its decree to women between 11 and 46 years of age. However, IS and related websites have denied making thes announcement.

Author: Manasi Gopalakrishnan

Editor: Grahame Lucas


20.08.2014 | 14:46