Music in Raqqa after three years

ISIS has drained the joy of life in Raqqa, but now after three years, sounds of music ring in the city once more.

After its liberation, music plays in Raqqa and people dance again. First thing one sees on arrival in Raqqa is the demolished, ruined city. But the ruins of the city are dwarfed next to the cruelty ISIS imposed and their inhumane attitudes.


A young woman named Semire Qehweci from the Hawi Alihewa village said the following on what they went through: “ISIS had drained our joy of life and stole the meaning of life from us. The society had turned into a group of people who were dead inside. Nobody could listen to music, visit their friends, even gather as families. They ruined everything for people. Even though we were exiled from our homes and we know that our homes are demolished, we have found our joy once again. Most importantly, now we can greet our neighbors.”


For the last four days, there hasn’t been sounds of gunfire and explosions on Raqqa’s streets. Music fills the air instead. Fighters play traditional music from their vehicles and break the silence in Raqqa. The city hasn’t been completely cleared of the explosives laid by the gangs, so the civilians haven’t been brought back. But the main roads and squares have been cleared of the debris.


The Arab society is not very used to women in fatigues walking around with Kalashnikovs, so the YPJ fighters draw the most attention in Raqqa and surroundings. Dozens of young women have already joined the YPJ from Raqqa. Zilan Reqa, dancing the halay with her friends in the center, is one of them. Zilan, who has been in the YPJ for three months, said: “I couldn’t even dream of another life outside the home. But ISIS’ defeat and Raqqa’s liberation at the hands of women has changed my life. My eyes have been opened, and I decided to join to create the life the women of Raqqa deserve.”