“I want my brother”, “I want the apple of my eye”, “We want Dad”... Such were the slogans raised by a group of people from Raqqa on June 17, 2013, but this time they were not being directed against the regime.
The northern city of Raqqa was the first provincial capital to be liberated from the Assad regime, after the “Battle of Raqqa” took place between the Syrian army and opposition forces in March 2013. The struggle for freedom and justice, however, did not end when the city fell under rebel control, since extremist groups such as the “Islamic State for Iraq and the Levant," part of the rebel Al-Nusra Front have gained strength in the city and in other liberated areas. The views of these groups, which are now engaging in repressive practices reminiscent of those carried out by the Assad regime, are far from representing the aspirations that took Syrians to the streets in March 2011.
To protest against the arbitrary detentions carried out by members of the “Islamic State for Iraq and the Levant”, a sit-in took place in front of the group´s headquarters. In a symbolic gesture reminiscent of the beginning of the Syrian uprising, the protest was led by women. Mothers, wives and daughters of the detainees demanded their immediate release and repeated a slogan that has become well-known among Syrians: “There is nothing holier than freedom, and no worse sin that stealing it.”
With this motto, the women of Raqqa addressed the instrumentalization of religion for the purpose of oppression. They were joined by many others, who protested against the black flag of Al-Nusra front that has replaced the revolution flag, and demanded an end to the arbitrary detentions and murders.
“Safeguard the state´s capabilities," “Respect freedom,” “Respect civilians,” and “Do not to humiliate" were some other slogans - once used against the government of Bashar al-Assad - that were repeated as a warning to those trying to steal the revolution.