Islamic State militants have controlled Mosul, a major city in northern Iraq, for more than a year. But now, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the group is cracking down even more tightly, banning traditional games such as backgammon and dominoes, according to Radio Free Europe and local media.
ISIL also banned mahibs, a traditional Ramadan game where players, divided into teams, take turns guessing in which fist their opponent is holding a ring. These games can last up to several days. At the end, players gather for soft drinks and sweets to celebrate their brotherhood.
Instead of these games, deemed un-Islamic by ISIL’s extremist religious authorities, the militants are reportedly organizing some more intense forms of leisure such as wrestling or foot races. The new rules, which also include more restrictions on women’s freedoms, follow the group’s strict interpretation of Sunni Islam. ISIL even forbade certain mainstream Sunni prayers, and moved the start date of Ramadan a day later than most Sunni authorities.
In a more dramatic example of ISIL’s rule during the holiday, militants strung up two boys on a beam, alive in Syria for eating during daylight. “They broke the fast with no religious justification,” said a sign attached to them.