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Muted Eid in Raqqa

Hardships in the city imposed by ISIS mean there was little celebration in the city this Eid
Muted Eid in Raqqa

Raqqa looks like a very different place this Eid. Most of the ISIS fighters have disappeared or their numbers have been dramatically reduced.


Cars belonging to the organization have been hidden in the alleys of the city, only a few of them have been passing by at speed and never stop at one location.


The streets of Raqqa are almost empty. There are no signs of Eid other than in the streets surrounding Rashid Park, where a limited number of children have gathered, accompanied by women in dark clothing moving hastily with their children.


"Eid here became dull and tasteless. ISIS has killed everything inside us, it stole the joy of Eid and the happiness of children," said Qassem, a shop owner near the park.


He said ISIS has changed something inside the community and there is an increasing tendency for violence among the people.


"Despite the variety of toys available, weapons are the most common among children," Qassem explained.


While shop owners in the city complain about the recession, other inhabitants complain about the high prices and the hardships in the city.


In a city where the percentage of poverty is more than 30%, activists have expressed concern towards the living standards for many people.


"People are poor, while ISIS fighters enjoy the luxury of expensive restaurants," the activists said.


Sharia cars, which are used to terrify people, now pass through the streets quickly and at certain times, and ISIS fighters are avoiding any clashes with people.


"The behavior of ISIS has changed significantly since the start of coalition's air raids on Syria; they are more flexible now," said Awwad, a shop owner in Rumailah neighborhood.


Eid imams in Raqqa mosques have called on people to join the jihadists, and glorified al-Baghdadi, asking Muslims to proclaim allegiance to him, which provoked many to compare them with the preachments delivered during Assad's rule.


Meanwhile ISIS supporters delivered booklets entitled "Proclaim Allegiance to al-Baghdadi", calling on all Muslims to proclaim allegiance to the ISIS leader and Muslim caliph.


The booklet defines Baghdadi as a descendant of Prophet Mohammad, and talks about his Sharia studies and his achievements in battle.


The organization considers the publication of Baghdadi's biography a necessary step to confirm his position as the Muslim caliph.


The step will continue a campaign dedicated to convincing people in general, the jihadists and sheikhs of clans to participate in the establishment of the announced caliphate.


The booklet has been distributed by ISIS supporters on Internet pages and on a large scale in all the regions under its control, calling on Muslims to build the Islamic State and unite their forces against the enemy.


"The enemies have united to fight you, unite to fight them," the booklet urges.


"They think that a kilo of meat and two words are enough to buy people and make them forget their misery." one of the prayers commented, describing the cheap advertising campaign to attract people, a campaign that cannot succeed in the light of the high prices and daily difficulties.


While ISIS fighters enjoy their meals, the people of Raqqa dream of a package of bread – now priced at 200 Syrian Pounds – and a gas bottle sold for 9,000 SP. They have actually been left without Eid, busy with their daily hardships and increasing problems.


Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer


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