23 Apr 2013 22:00
Raqqa is the first Syrian provincial capital to be taken over by the rebels during the war. It offers a look into how Syria might look like after a hypothetical fall of president Bashar al-Assad. The city, still being shelled and bombed by the regime, is now under control of the Free Syrian Army and of several Islamist groups, including al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and a group staying in the opulent governor's palace. They all have different visions for a future Syria. A Civilian Council is trying to act as a "mini-government," as they put it themselves, and a newly formed Sharia Committee had to close after hundreds protested over the arrest of two young sisters. People are enjoying their new freedom but complain about the economy, feel insecure about the future and are wary of Islamist groups. At the same time, the extremists' style is becoming 'the new cool', more young men wear beards in their style and their black bandanas are the best selling item among the rebel paraphernalia sold by street vendors.
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