They want women to join them

Frank Gardner at the BBC takes a look at the role of women in Islamic State.

IS has big plans for Muslim women who migrate to their territory to play a key role in building the so-called caliphate.

“They want women to join them,” says Dr Katherine Brown, an expert in Islamic Studies at King’s College London.

“They see women as the corner stones of the new state and they want citizens.

“What is really interesting is that people talk of IS as being a death cult, but that is the opposite of what they are trying to create… they want to create a new state… and they very much want women to join that as part of this utopian politics.”

Their what?


Dystopian, I call it.

Ok, you can translate it as “good place” or “nowhere place”…but the “nowhere” part still implies that it’s nowhere because it’s ideal and humans have never managed to do ideal yet. The idea of utopia is what you come up with when you sit down to think about what would be the best possible arrangement for everyone assuming no constraints imposed by reality.

This isn’t that. This is just the same old shit only more so – it’s fanatically patriarchal men arranging things to their liking with no regard for the needs and concerns of people who aren’t¬†fanatically patriarchal men. That’s not utopia.

That utopia includes a treatise published in Arabic in February, setting out a code of conduct that harks back 1,400 years.

It is aimed primarily at Arab women in the Gulf states and the wider Middle East and includes passages that are incomprehensible to most people in the West:

“It is considered legitimate for a girl to be married at the age of nine. Most pure girls will be married by 16 or 17, while they are still young and active,” the treatise says.

Not utopia.

Researchers say that many of those women who make it across the Turkish border into IS-controlled territory end up frustrated by the roles they are assigned.

Unmarried women are kept in a safe house, usually with others who speak their language and given religious indoctrination and Arabic classes while a husband is found for them as quickly as possible.

Any thoughts of taking part in battles and wielding a Kalashnikov on the frontline are soon dashed. But some join the Khansaa Brigades, a women-only vigilante force that patrols cities like Raqqa and Mosul enforcing strict Islamist rules.

“They’ve been known to carry out harsh punishments like beatings and whipping someone for not wearing the right clothing,” says Dr Katherine Brown.

They have also been known to put animal trap clamps on a women’s breasts because they have been breastfeeding in public, she says.

See? Not utopia.

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