Anbar Province in Iraq used to be known as a region home to terrorist activity, but now it is showing its love for literature and art.
In Iraq’s western Anbar Province, al-Maarif University College has launched a week-long campaign that attempts to celebrate art and culture in the country. The organisers of the campaign said that the defeat of ISIS in Iraq has allowed people to celebrate their culture.
“Thanks to the security forces, the administrators, and all the people of Anbar Province, the sky of Anbar and the sky of Iraq are lighting up with the innovations, ideas, and production of their youth,” said Yaqoub Nadhim, the dean of al-Maarif University College. “Now, the war is over, and it is time we focus on construction, investment, creativity, and economy.”
Citizens and officials alike said that the holding of such a campaign proves that terrorism has been removed from the province, which was at one point the hotbed for ISIS and al-Qaeda activity.
“Ramadi was intended to be the capital of terrorism, but today we see that it is the capital of culture, literature, and arts,” said Ibrahim al-Awsaj, the mayor of the city of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province.
While ISIS sleeper cells continue to operate in parts of the province that border Syria, residents inside the cities say that their areas are safe and that they will continue to spread the message of peace and love.
“These forums and festivals, which we conduct in our colleges, in the other colleges, and in Anbar University, convey a positive image to the rest of the provinces that Anbar province is a province of peace,” said Ola Hameed, a law student at al-Maarif University College.
At the exhibition held by the university, dozens of artists and photographers presented their works, which attempt to counter extremist ideology by spreading the message of peace and coexistence.
“We want to show the world that Anbar is a great city,” said Latif Attika, the director of the Qasr Cultural Centre in Anbar.
Since the liberation of Iraq from ISIS control in December 2017, dozens of festivals and exhibitions have been launched throughout the Iraqi Provinces, which attempt to promote the celebration of cultural traditions and other forms of expression that were previously banned under ISIS control.
The widespread celebration of these customs shows that despite terrorist organisations attempts to implant extremist ideology within Iraqi society, Iraqis have risen above this, to show the world their resilience and their love for life.