“Life under Isis in Raqqa: The city where smoking a cigarette could see you publicly flogged, imprisoned and even decapitated,” by Heather Saul, the Independent, February 13, 2015:
Residents of a city besieged by Isis have described living under strict bans on alcohol and cigarettes, with anyone caught smoking publicly flogged, handed huge fines and even reportedly executed.
The group enforces a strict interpretation of Islam in areas in Syria and Iraq under its self-declared ‘caliphate’. Some ultraconservative versions of Sharia denounce the habit as harmful and therefore haram (forbidden).
Raqqa, in Syria, is one of the group’s biggest strongholds.
A leading figure with Isis’s police force was recently found in Deir-al-Zor beheaded and with a cigarette in his mouth, with the sentence “O Sheikh this is munkar (hateful and evil thing)” written on his body.
Abu Mohammed Hussam, one of the founders of the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) activist group, described the severity of punishments for being caught smoking cigarettes.
“The first time he will be arrested and flogged (40 lashes),” he told The Independent. “If he smokes again, he will be whipped and imprisoned. On the third occasion, he will be taken to a camp in the countryside and fined a large sum of money.”
Isis swiftly shut down shops selling cigarettes and water pipes after Raqqa fell and banned street vendors from selling smoking materials. One man described militants bending his fingers with pliers after being caught smoking in the street to Al Monitor.
The group also released a series of statements from the so-called Isis ‘Preaching Office’ describing the health problems that made smoking ” a slow suicide”….