“… While the bloody civil war to oust Mr. Assad grinds on, the various factions arrayed against him are already struggling to reinvent most institutions, including courts, schools, mosques and local administrations. Given that Syria seems to be fracturing into ever-smaller pieces where local warlords hold sway, it is hard to generalize. But there is no question that the Islamic extremists who have gained admiration and respect for their battlefield feats are trying to translate that into authority over society as a whole….
The court system serves as a prime example of the contest for a postwar Syria. As crime has proliferated after government control vanished in many areas, Syrians clamored for security. Rebel leaders, particularly Islamists, responded by opening dozens of courts….
The group found that in many cases, fighters lacking training in Shariah, or Islamic law, not to mention civil law, handed down death sentences to government supporters with little or no defense. Commanders of the more secular Free Syrian Army were not much better, the group discovered…..
During a recent demonstration organized by young secular activists, Islamist supporters unfurled one banner bearing the Muslim Shahada and another calling for a caliphate, or Islamic state. The Shahada is the creed also used on the flag: “There is no God but God, and Mohammed is his prophet.”A young activist, Wael Ibrahim, took the banners down and threw them into the crowd, an act that was posted on YouTube. The local Shariah Board summoned him and sentenced him to 10 lashes. Mr. Ibrahim then circulated a picture of the welts on his back.“We did not rebel to have a caliphate,” he said afterward, objecting that foreign Islamists were involved in his sentence…..
“We are not democrats,” he said. Even in the absence of elections, he was convinced that Syrians wanted to live under Shariah. “From the beginning the Syrian revolution had an Islamic tinge,” he said. “In a majority Sunni country, the law people would chose would be Shariah.”….
“Syria right now is a jungle where everyone is competing to be the power,” said Faraj, a young fighter. In many places, someone who was a baker or a taxi driver now controls hundreds of men and uses them to run one or two villages at his whim, he said. “Another six months of that and people are going to want Assad back because they are fed up.”