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On July 23, 2022, several Syrian rebel Telegram channels posted a two-minute video clip that had been released by a U.S.-based humanitarian organization with offices in Syria, Turkey, and Jordan. The clip shows two women dressed as men performing a skit to an audience of a half-dozen women wearing hijabs. One of the women plays the part of Abu Khaled, a father seeking to ease the life of his 14-year-old daughter by marrying her off, while the other acts as his friend, Abu Mahmoud, who educates him about the risks of doing so and informs him that the humanitarian organization can help. The skit concludes with Abu Khaled accepting Abu Mahmoud's advice and telling him: "Let us be partners and allies in empowering women and girls."
Syrian Pro-Rebel Activist: Humanitarian Organization Exploits Women By Imposing Foreign Values, "Provokes" Traditional Culture
A pro-rebel activist accused the humanitarian organization, which is active in the rebel-controlled areas of Idlib, A'zaz, and Afrin, of "exploiting women's neediness and poverty to impose an equation: A relief package and [medical] treatment in exchange for the values and culture which we seek to impose on you." The activist claims that the humanitarian organization's campaign against child marriage is based on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which bans marriages under the age of 18 while allowing sexual activity before that age as "a natural need of adolescents." Commenting on the video, which he describes as "vulgarity, foolishness, and nonsense," the activist writes that the humanitarian organization is clearly trying to appeal to traditional Syrian women who wear the hijab, while mocking the father, who represents "Arab tribalism," to present him as "a symbol of backwardness, ignorance, and primitivity." The activist accuses the humanitarian organization of being "provocative" with the video's recommendation that "the future and education of our daughters and women be decided through these organizations and their ideas."
Syria-Based Jihadi Clerics: "Women's Corruption Organizations" And Their Supporters Are "Enemies Of The Ummah," HTS Leader Al-Joulani Responsible For Corruption Of Society And Must Be Removed
In an apparent reference to the humanitarian organization's video clip, an independent jihadi cleric based in the Idlib area accused "women's corruption organizations" of attempting to gradually "corrupt society and destroy it from within." The jihadi cleric warns that if these organizations are not "expelled and pursued," they will continue to wreak havoc, adding that anyone who supports or encourages their work is "an enemy of the ummah [Islamic nation] and a genuine partner with the enemies."
Another independent Idlib-based jihadi preacher blamed Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani, the leader of Syrian jihadi group Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), for what he described as the corruption of society, and called for his removal. The jihadi preacher claimed that the HTS leader had recently visited Kafr Rouheen, near Idlib, where, when asked about the "spreading corruption" in the city of Idlib, manifested by women going out adorned and unveiled, mixing of the sexes, and the activity of women's empowerment organizations, he replied that this was a matter of "personal freedom." The jihadi cleric lashed out at Al-Joulani, calling him the "liar of Syria" and "cancer of the revolution," and declaring that "there is no cure for this jihad with the presence of this deadly, loathsome cancer."
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