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

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.


Iraq reports 24-hour virus toll record of over 3,800

Updated 22 min 10 sec ago

Iraq reports 24-hour virus toll record of over 3,800

  • The novel coronavirus has brought Iraq’s fragile economy to its knees
  • It made Iraq one of the worst hit countries in the Middle East, but still far behind neighboring Iran

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s health ministry Thursday reported 3,841 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, a record since the first infection was registered in February.
The latest count raises total confirmed cases in Iraq to 164,277, including 5,641 deaths, according to the ministry.
The novel coronavirus has brought Iraq’s fragile economy to its knees and overwhelmed hospitals already stretched by decades of conflict and a lack of investment.
Iraq reopened to commercial flights in late July after four months of lockdown. Earlier that month it had lifted other restrictions and reopened malls and shops.
But the number of confirmed virus cases had risen steadily until Thursday’s record tally.
It made Iraq one of the worst hit countries in the Middle East, but still far behind neighboring Iran where total confirmed cases since February are over 300,000.