Senior clerics in parts of Iraq and Syria that have been taken over by Islamic State recently banned pigeon breeding on the roofs of houses, alleging the overhead view of revealing genitals is nothing short of a dishonorable activity. Militants operating in the caliphate’s Euphrates province, which spans from Anbar in Iraq to Dier ez Zour in Syria, informed pigeon breeders last month that they had less than a week to stop the practice. The breeders were also warned that they would be flogged in public if they happened to disobey the order.
This is not the first time that Islamic State has targeted what they perceive as the blasphemous practice of pigeon breeding, which happens to be a common pastime across the Middle East. Earlier this year, local media reports claimed that 15 boys had been arrested by Islamic State jihadists with at least three of them being executed eventually after the region’s Diyala Governate said their hobby of pigeon breeding had left them with little time to worship Allah. The boys who survived however were forced to pay as much as £1,200 each in order to be released from custody.
According to witnesses, the militants searched all the houses individually to make sure that every single pigeon was stuffed into a bag and burnt alive.
A local farmer, Abu Abdullah, told the media that he had to go to great lengths to gather money in order to free his son. Some parents, who failed to produce that kind of cash at such short notice, decided to hand over jewelry and other assets instead. Abdullah said, while in custody, his son had been beaten severely and warned never to keep pigeons again.
At the time of his son’s arrest, Abdullah apparently asked the militants what he had done to deserve such harsh treatment.
“They said that he is not following real Islam, he must be punished for being a pigeon breeder. This habit is taking him away from worshiping Allah… I begged them again to know where are they taking him, what are they going to do to him. They said he is going to be taken to be judged according to Islamic Sharia… They pushed me, and when my son tried to stop them from pushing me they beat him. Then they put him inside the car and left,” he said.
Islamic State’s recent ban on pigeon breeding was announced in an official document that is regularly released by senior administrators of the Euphrates province. Penned in Arabic on a piece of paper headed with Islamic State’s horrifying black and white logo, the short notice began with a warning to residents who happened to keep pigeons on their rooftops.
“All those who keep pigeons above the roofs of their houses must stop doing this entirely within a week of the date of the issuing of this statement,” the militants said. “Whosoever violates it will be subject to consequences of reprimand including a financial fine, imprisonment and flogging.”
When initial reports of Islamic State’s ban on pigeon breeding began to surface earlier this year, critics concluded that the decision was taken with regards to militants assuming the birds were being used to smuggle anti-caliphate messages or cigarettes from across the border. However, the official announcement left no room for such misunderstandings, as it clarified that the ban was intended to bring an end to the criminal act of revealing pigeon’s genitals. An insider explained though that the phrase ‘revealing pigeon’s genitals’ was in fact idiomatic, as the ban really aimed at stopping pigeon breeders from peeping into their neighbors’ homes.
After announcing the ban, the militants instructed their huge network of spies and petrified informers to make sure that those who violate the ban are reported to the local religious police, also known as Hisbah. While it was implied that those who flout the ban once would be flogged publicly and fined a hefty amount, it was made evidently clear that those who flout the ban repeatedly would be imprisoned in one of the most notorious prison cells of the caliphate.
Photo Credits: Gadling