PYD shuts down mosques in Afrin, Syria, locals say

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
Published 22.08.2017 00:21

The Democratic Union Party (PYD) has closed down 64 mosques in Afrin, Syria, which has been under their control since 2012, the Yeni Şafak daily reported yesterday.

Speaking to the daily, Mahdi Rashid, a local, said that mosques and their communities are being attacked by the PKK's Syrian affiliate, the PYD.

"The public order teams of the PYD treat the mosque communities as if they are supporters of Daesh and al-Qaida. They follow and investigate people who go to mosque regularly. They mock the values of people such as mosques, prayers and religion," Rashid said, adding that they try to fuel people with anti-Islamist, socialist ideas under the name of communal consciousness.

Abu Ahmad, another resident who has been an imam for 18 years in Afrin, said that the pressure on imams has increased to an unbearable level within the last year.

"The terrorist organization pressures us to tell their agenda during the khutbah. They even force imams to read to their communities the journals they publish against Turkey and the Syrian opposition," Ahmad said, adding that in last eight months, four imams have gone missing and they think that the PYD is responsible.

The canton assembly the launched declared in July that the language of education will be Kurdish from that point on.

According to local residents, the decrease in Arabic language class hours to two hours per week in schools is to estrange people from the Quran and Islam. The lecture books have been rewritten by the PYD with a "communist ideology," including quotes from Abdullah Öcalan, in the schools of Afrin, where the 65 percent of the population are Arab.

Last month, locals in Afrin also accused the PYD of forcibly recruiting at least one member from each family for its People's Protection Units (YPG) militia.

According to claims, the PYD forcibly recruits underage individuals to boost the number of militants in its self-defense forces in Afrin. It has conscripted at least one civilian from each family, especially from the village of Cala in Afrin, according to the claims.

The PYD has also been accused of taking men under the age of 60 hostage to force younger people to come out of hiding and join the YPG ranks.

Sources claimed that the PYD was ready to recruit children and quizzed families. This has raised concerns among residents about their children's future.

The PYD is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, recognized as a terrorist group by U.S., EU, Turkey and many other countries. It is seen by the U.S. as an "ally" in the fight against Daesh while YPG militants make up the bulk of the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria.

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