Earlier this week, a video aired on French television showed scenes of daily life in Raqqa, Syria, the de-facto capital of the Islamic State.
Filmed in secret and at a huge risk by a Syrian woman who hid a camera behind her niqab, the footage shows armed men patrolling the city, a woman carrying an AK-47 into a playground, and an internet café where foreign women who traveled to the caliphate phone their relatives back in France, saying they love it there.
The video, like VICE News’ The Islamic State before it, once again brought the attention of the world to Raqqa, a city where life under the Islamic State is as inscrutable to outsiders as it is terrifying — a reminder of the caliphate’s brutality as much as of its bureaucratic efficiency.
With open dissent all but stifled in the city — and punished with death, when it still happens — a group of young residents has taken the huge personal risk of documenting life under the Islamist fighters’ rule — sharing photos, videos, and stories from the city on the web. Even after one of them was caught and executed, the group carried on, speaking with journalists and sharing images from the city.