Vice Report on ISIS Sharia: Guys in Polo Shirts, Ray-Bans Enforcing Medieval Laws

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 13 2014 12:36 PM

Vice Report on ISIS Sharia: Guys in Polo Shirts, Ray-Bans Enforcing Medieval Laws

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From Raqqa in June.

Photo by Reuters

Vice reporter Medyan Dairieh is releasing a five-part series of video reports from inside ISIS's self-declared Islamic state, and the new fourth installment covers the institution of sharia law in Raqqa, an ISIS-controlled city in Syria. The details are disturbing—a man is crucified, a Christian church is seized and turned into a jihad indoctrination center for children—but what is perhaps even more striking than the Stone Age conception of justice discussed is the matter-of-fact, almost low-key mood of the footage. The man who tells Dairieh that the punishment for stealing is having your hands cut off is wearing Ray-Bans and a baseball cap. Traffic idles past the crucifixion. A mention of laws forbidding alcohol and adultery plays over video of Polo Shirt Guy, who seems to be thinking about lunch:

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Courtesy of Vice

A man waits to make a complaint (his cousin is hoarding grain) in a lobby that might as well be a bank or a DMV:

screen_shot_20140813_at_11.51.43_am

Courtesy of Vice

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Fundamentalist figures of the recent past like Ayatollah Khomeini, Muqtada al-Sadr, and Mullah Omar were often depicted—and self-depicted—wearing traditional clothing and severe expressions. Osama Bin Laden literally lived, at some points, in a cave. We've become habituated, in recent decades, to stark images of jihadism. And whether or not the casually modern trappings of ISIS's old-fashioned brutality ultimately make the group more dangerous, they've certainly already made them more unnerving. Watch the whole video here.

Ben Mathis-Lilley edits the Slatest. Follow @Slatest on Twitter.

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