SYRIA

Jihadists in Raqqa asked to give up their Nike shoes

Since the Islamic State organisation took over the Syrian city of Raqqa in March 2013, the jihadist group has imposed many strict laws on the population, including forcing women to wear not just a veil but a niqab, a cloth that covers most of the face. Recently, the group has gone a little further in their sartorial commandments by asking vendors to stop selling certain brands that they find immoral.

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A photo of the pamphlet published by "Raqqa is being massacred in silence".

Since the Islamic State organisation took over the Syrian city of Raqqa in March 2013, the jihadist group has imposed many strict laws on the population, including forcing women to wear not just a veil but a niqab, a cloth that covers most of the face. Recently, the group has gone a little further in their sartorial commandments by asking vendors to stop selling certain brands that they find immoral.

At the end of April, the jihadist organisation distributed pamphlets to shopkeepers. The activist network “Raqqa is Being massacred in Silence”, which is against the Islamic State group, published photos of this document.

“Beware, young people, the slogans of infidels are on our clothes!” warns the pamphlet, which contains a list of problematic clothing items alongside short explanations.

The pamphlet explains that the brand Nike is “vulgar”, because, in Arabic, “nike” is a slang word referring to sex. Never mind that the brand name Nike actually comes from the name of the Greek goddess of victory.

The brand Whore is also banned for the same reason. Brands Croix, Crux and Vicar are also banned because they refer to Christianity.

Jihadist leaders in Raqqa also banned the brand Woolen because “souf”, the Arabic word for wool, evokes sufism, an order of Islam considered heretic by the jihadists.

The jihadists also list expressions considered inappropriate for tee-shirts including “Vixen”, “Bad boy” or “I’m a pretty bitch.”

“Recommendations for clothes vendors”

The document also says vendors selling clothing have an important moral responsibility:

“Shopkeepers should sell alternative, authorised clothing items [Editor’s note: meaning authorised by the Islamic State group] and stop selling infidel clothes and items that show the ‘awra’ [Editor’s note: a word used in Islam to designate parts of the body that people should cover in order to respect rules of modesty]. Be informed that those who sell these clothing items have sinned, just like those who wear these items, and this sin will remain with them until the end of time. (…)”

When contacted by France 24, a source close to the jihadists in Raqqa confirmed that this pamphlet was only handed out in the region around Raqqa and Hassaka and, for the time being, it does not reflect an official policy on the part of the overall Islamic State group. It remains to be seen if any sort of punishment will be meted for those who go against the pamphlet’s recommendations – and whether jihadists themselves will conform to this new code of conduct, as many of them are known to have a penchant for Western brands, including Nike shoes.

The photo caption reads: "A French jihadist from IS posing with his weapons, and Nikes that match his uniform." This jihadist, who went by the name of Abu Tamima, was killed in battle in Raqqa in July 2014.