Life under the rule of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is harsh , according to residents of and refugees from Iraqi towns controlled by the extremist Muslim insurgency.
In June,ISISdeclared it was establishing an " Islamic caliphate " in parts of northern Syria and eastern Iraq that its fighters wrested from government forces.
When ISIS fighters seized the Iraqi town of Fallujah in March, they looted and commandeered people's homes, said former resident Hameed Saadi, 49, who now lives in al-Saqlawiyah, a nearby town under government control.
"There is no rule of law in the city," he said, adding ISIS fighters were instead "issuing their own improvised rulings" and "purposely humiliating people".
"That is why we abandoned Fallujah," he said.
Fleeing residents told Ahmed al-Thiyabi al-Dulaimi, governor of surrounding Anbar Province, that ISIS was flogging cigarette smokers, shuttering hair salons and imposing restrictions on barber shops.
ISIS also banned local preachers from entering the city's mosques, replacing them with others "which made many [residents] refrain from entering and praying in the mosques", said the governor, adding many families fled after ISIS began punishing youth in public squares.
"People have come to distinguish between life in a state of law and life among backward, ignorant gangs who know only death and destruction, and are distorting and misrepresenting religion at their whim," al-Dulaimi said.
Young people aren't the only ones subjected to public humiliation at the hands of ISIS: both Iraqis and Syrians said while normally old people are accorded much respect in their societies, instead ISIS has shown them great disdain.
Some expressed outrage over a video circulating on social media websites showing an ISIS leader known as Abu Bakr al-Masri ("the Egyptian") berating an elderly Syrian man in the town of Jarabulus, in Aleppo Province.
"The indignity suffered by the elderly man is but a drop in the ocean of the suffering that Syrian citizens experience daily in areas controlled by ISIS," said Mohammed al-Hallaq, a teacher from the city of al-Raqa, in north-central Syria.
ISIS also has taken a backward approach to culture and learning by its treatment of libraries.
Last month in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul (now controlled by ISIS), locals said the group set about emptying libraries and burning a treasure trove of books on Islamic philosophy, sharia law, history, literature, and science.
The insurgents destroyed thousands of books on the pretext they promoted "atheism and immorality", according to Ninawa Province's tribal council.
Jalal al-Saffar, who works at the government-run al-Hadbaa Library in Mosul, said he made electronic copies of all books destroyed by ISIS.
"Thank God that we, along with a number of staff, took them with us to Baghdad," he said. "They are preserved and we will print them again after ISIS is expelled from Mosul.
"However, the moral value of historical books in their original paper [editions] was important," he added. "I cried over one of those books as it was a great treasure of knowledge we were all proud to have."
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