PHOTO: Jabhat al-Nusra fighters in Idlib Province, May 2014

Analyst Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi posts a document indicating that the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra is threatening 14 Druze communities in Idlib Province in northwest Syria. An “agreement” with local Druze demands conversion to Sunni Islam, the destruction of “idolatrous” shrines, and strict social regulations including mandatory hijab for women in public.

Located mainly in Syria and Lebanon, the Druze separated from Islam in the 11th century. They have tried to live autonomously in both countries, free from interference with religious and social practice.

The document claiming to be a recent agreement between Druze community leaders and a Jabhat al-Nusra official, “The representatives of…aforementioned areas have disavowed the Druze religion and have said that they are Muslims of the Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jamaat [Sunnis].”

The agreement mandates “searching of idolatrous tomb-shrines, destroying their structures and flattening them on the ground”, following a report that Jabhat al-Nusra has already demolished the tomb of the Druze Sheikh Jaber. It requires hijab for women outside their homes, segregation in schools, and Jabhat al-Nusra oversight of services and aid.

The document concludes with a “Reminder: Any person in the Jabal region and aforementioned villages who contravenes/disagrees with these issues will expose himself to penalty according to Shari’a and censure.”