Lipstick, mixed dancing at first Raqqa wedding since Daesh’s ouster

Syrians dance at the first wedding following the ouster of Daesh from Raqqa. (AFP)
Updated 29 October 2017
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Lipstick, mixed dancing at first Raqqa wedding since Daesh’s ouster

RAQQA: At a house in Syria’s Raqqa, women and men danced together in celebration at a wedding that would have been unimaginable just months ago, when Daesh ruled the city.
Residents told AFP that Ahmed and Heba’s wedding, held Friday in Raqqa’s western neighborhood of Jazra, was the first in the city since US-backed forces seized it on Oct. 17.
Out on the patio, a man in a dark robe and a thick puffer vest spun his prayer beads to the beat as he led a line of men and women in the dabke, a Levantine dance performed at celebrations.
The dancers hopped and swayed to-and-fro as children ran around. Elders looked on approvingly from seats and benches on the edge of the makeshift dancefloor.
Almost everything in the scene would have been impossible during the three years of brutal Daesh rule.
The group banned music and dancing, imposed a strict dress code, prevented women from wearing makeup, and forcefully prohibited the mixing of men and women.
But in Jazra on Friday, music mingled with the sound of generators providing the only electricity in the ravaged district, which like much of the city was heavily damaged during more than four months of fighting.
Jazra was one of the first districts of Raqqa to be captured by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters that broke into the city in June.
The groom’s family, unlike many others who fled Raqqa during the fighting, were able to return to their neighborhood and celebrate.
“We’re very happy, it’s the first wedding since the terrorists left,” Ahmed’s father Uthman Ibrahim said as he received guests.
“Before Daesh, there was dabke, songs and the traditional rituals of the region at our marriages, but Daesh banned everything, there was not a single celebration,” the man in his fifties told AFP.
“Today it’s a return to joy,” he added, his face lit up with happiness.
An elderly man, wearing a long robe and a pristine white headscarf, performed mawals, unaccompanied poetic songs sung across the Middle East.
Female guests, forced under terrorist rule to wear all-enveloping black including gloves and face veils, took obvious delight in sporting patterned robes and bright red lipstick.
Some covered their hair with matching patterned scarves, while others, including the bride, had their locks coiffed for the occasion.
Seated on plastic chairs, the young bride and groom looked slightly nervous.
Eighteen-year-old Ahmed wore a traditional brown robe, while his new wife was dressed in a frothy white wedding dress, a layer of tulle embroidered with a floral pattern draped over its ballgown bottom.
A delicate veil edged with white flowers rested on her tightly curled hair, and a gold headpiece dangled over her eyebrows, darkened with makeup.
Her hands were painted with henna patterns and she fiddled nervously with a bouquet of artificial flowers. Around the couple, guests took photos with mobile phones while little girls also made-up with darkened eyebrows and colored lips danced to the beat of the music.


Kuwait arrests 2 Filipinos accused of helping runaway maids

Updated 23 April 2018
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Kuwait arrests 2 Filipinos accused of helping runaway maids

  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has banned workers from heading to Kuwait over abuse cases
  • The two countries have since been negotiating for new rules governing Filipino workers there
KUWAIT CITY: Kuwaiti police arrested two Filipinos for allegedly convincing housemaids to run away from their employers’ homes as the Philippines’ ambassador faced questions for comments about his embassy’s work in aiding abused workers, authorities said Sunday.
The arrests, reported by the state-run KUNA news agency, come as relations are tense between Kuwait and the Philippines, which sends many domestic laborers to the Gulf Arab emirate.
Already, the government of President Rodrigo Duterte has banned workers from heading to Kuwait over abuse cases, culminating in a February incident that saw a Filipino’s body discovered in a freezer at a Kuwait City apartment abandoned for more than a year.
KUNA said Sunday the two Filipinos acknowledged convincing the maids to leave. It wasn’t clear what law the two men were accused of breaking, though KUNA said the two “confessed to the crime in addition to other similar offenses that had been committed in various regions of the country.”
The arrests came after Kuwait summoned the Philippines ambassador over comments he made that were reported in local press about the embassy’s effort to rescue domestic workers who are abused by their employers. Ambassador Renato Villa was quoted as saying his embassy moves in to help the abused if Kuwaiti authorities fail to respond within 24 hours.
Villa’s office said he was unavailable for comment Sunday.
Duterte in January complained that cases of abuse reported by Filipino domestic workers “always” seem to be coming from Kuwait.
There have been prominent cases of abuse in the past, including an incident in December 2014 where a Kuwaiti’s pet lions fatally mauled a Filipino maid.
The Philippines banned workers entirely from Kuwait after the discovery of Joanna Demafelis’ body in a freeze in February. In late March, Lebanese officials said 40-year-old Lebanese national Nader Essam Assaf confessed to killing the woman along with his Syrian wife, who remains at large. Authorities say Assaf faces a possible death sentence.
More than 260,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, many of them as housemaids. Kuwait and the Philippines have since been negotiating for new rules governing Filipino workers there.
Philippine officials have demanded that housemaids be allowed to hold their passports and cellphones, which is normal for skilled workers like teachers and office workers. But many Kuwaiti employers seize their phones and passports.