Syrian Rebels Set Up ‘Religious Police’ Around Aleppo

Islamist Factions Imposing Saudi-Style Religious Codes on Residents

Saudi Arabia’s harsh Police of Vice and Virtue seem to be setting up shop in northern Syria, with locals reporting that rebel forces have establish Saudi-style religious police around the outskirts of Aleppo, and at least one high-ranking member of the Saudi version was seen in a video taking part.

The police are charged with enforcing an extremely harsh interpretation of Sunni Islam, and while the rebels insist they are aimed at “fighting crime,” the locals say that mostly they are forcing people to pray and stopping women from driving cars.

Women are expressing serious concern about the trend, saying that they were on board for a “revolution for freedom” but the rebels are determined to take away social and individual freedoms they enjoyed under the Assad regime.

Secular rebel factions insisted that the entire story was “made up” by the regime to discredit the rebellion, but Islamist factions seemed to endorse the move, saying that a virtue-and-vice squad is “part-and-parcel of the freedom revolution” and that since Sunnis are a majority in Syria they have a right to impose such rules on society.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.