Since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, the Assad regime has routinely used religious institutions like mosques and schools to legitimize itself in they eyes of the masses, with many clerics exploiting religion to serve the authorities. Such is also the situation in ISIS-held areas of Deir-ez-Zor in eastern Syria.
Al-Souria Net correspondent in Deir-ez-Zor, Mutaz as-Saleh, explained: “the Office of Mosques and Endowments of the Islamic State has decided that Friday sermons will be distributed to the preachers before the Friday prayer. The sermons will be the same in all mosques and they will be written and issued by the court of each province". Saleh explained that improvisations would no longer be allowed outside the framework of the ISIS courts.
The residents of Deir-ez-Zor are convinced that ISIS follows closely in the steps of the Assad regime, which exploited mosques to serve personal interests. Hossam, a local from the province, told al-Souria Net: "this doesn’t differ from what the regime was doing, as the regime used to deliver its written sermons to the preachers on Friday morning to force them to say what the authorities wanted. The regime always selected the hypocrite preachers who are ready to beautify its image before the public".
‘Imad’, another local, refers to the problems that used to occur on Fridays during the Baath era: "Fridays were trouble days; the preacher might say something that does not bode well with the viewpoint of the state, so he would either be arrested or banned from preaching, or one of the audience members would oppose what the preacher said, and consequently be arrested or interrogated".
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer