Terrorist ISIS has repeatedly demonstrated its intent on terrorizing and intimidating people in the Syrian city of Raqqa since its emergence in 2014. Syrian women bore the brunt of the terrorist organization's violations, which included denying them the right to an education, abusing them, selling them, raping them, and forcing them into marriage. ISIS specifically targeted women through polarization and recruitment, brainwashing them with its deviant ideology.
Thurayya Mohammed Al-Hadi, a Syrian teacher who lives in Raqqa, stood out against these awful circumstances and chose not to submit to ISIS's oppression and violence in favour of making a good contribution to the education and awareness campaign against ISIS's perverted and dark ideology. With her wonderful career in education, she sought to strengthen people's intellectual immunity against violent extremist ideology and to promote a sense of positive identification and belonging.
With the rise of terrorist crimes, targeting schools, and growing restrictions on girls' education, Thurayya Al-Hadi started visiting Syrian people's homes in secret, calling upon parents to approve the education of their girls and educate them on the reality of things in order not to fall victims to the subversive ambitions of terrorist ISIS. Despite the hardships she faced, she managed to earn their trust and gather women and girls for special educational courses. Their number grew little by little over time.
However, ISIS soon found out about her activities after taking over Raqqa; therefore, she had to flee to the northern countryside of Aleppo in 2017 where she continued her mission by educating over 450 displaced and refugee women and their daughters.
She encountered several obstacles in her battle for awareness, including increased poverty rates, harsh living conditions in camps, and the marginalization of women, which made them easy prey for extremism. As a result, she began teaching women manual occupations in order for them to become self-sufficient and financially independent in order to properly raise their children and enhance their role in society. Sewing, embroidery, handiwork, and first aid were among the handicrafts available.
These activities were well received and encouraged by officials and activists who cooperated with Thurayya. She managed to establish the Popular Educational Institute on a large scale, which comprises classes on literacy, computer, sewing, and knitting. Then she established the Institute for Women's Ambitions in Zaiadyah municipality and the Sahabat Watan Centre that denounces violence and violations against women's rights. She also participated in many programs and seminars that highlight Syrian women's sufferings and uncover the horrific violations they suffer from under the terrorist ISIS's rule as well as wars, bombings, and displacement.
Thurayya addressed women's issues because she was aware of the magnitude and complexities of the challenges that Syrian women face as ISIS suppresses their identity, undermines their impact in society, and treats them as cheap commodity. As a result, she vowed to work tirelessly to end this injustice and transform women's suffering into struggle and success stories in order to challenge the painful reality.
It is worth noting that societies should recognize women's ability to effect positive change and that they are the primary shield against deviation of children and family members. Women's position in the household enables them to observe and identify the early stages of extremism so that they can be addressed as soon as possible before they gain momentum. Women are in the best position to create an aware society that is resistant to extremism and violence, able to counter the ideaology of terrorist groups, and capable of ensuring security and peace.
Thurayya also believes that working together to raise women's awareness and education is crucial for avoiding the return of ISIS's deviant and extremist ideology. She expressed her joy at seeing her female students get jobs that provide them with financial independence and psychological stability. That was indeed impossible under the heinous rule of ISIS.