Younis Shabaan*, a heavy smoker living in Mosul, was recently caught puffing on a cigarette by the Hisbah patrol. He was told off and his identification card was taken from him; he would need to show up at the Hisbah office in a week’s time to pay a fine, he was told. When Shabaan went, he took his satellite dish with him to give it to the morality patrol officers. While he watched, they destroyed the dish before giving him back his ID card. This type of punishment involving the destruction of satellite dishes is becoming more common.
A week ago, the IS group distributed another document. In this one, they listed 20 reasons why locals should stop watching satellite TV. The reasons included the fact that satellite TV was spreading false news about the IS group, it promoted of heresy, Shiite Muslim beliefs and female exhibitionism and because it was distracting good Muslims from worshipping.
In practice though, most people in Mosul who can watch satellite TV stations are still doing so. The full ban on the channels doesn’t begin until the start of the month of Ramadan, which begins in June 2016.
At the moment it seems more likely that people in the city will still be able to communicate online than they will be able to watch TV shows beamed in from outside Mosul. Then again, given that all fronts appear to be preparing for fighting in Mosul, it’s hard to say: The only thing that is clear right now is that the extremists want to isolate the city from the rest of the country, and the world, both physically and metaphorically.
*Names of individuals still in Mosul, or with families still in Mosul, have been changed for security reasons.