As the Islamic State group loses ground in its Iraqi “capital” of Mosul, residents are returning to some of their old pastimes that the extremists had outlawed.
For one resident, the IS retreat has meant once again being able to publicly play his cherished violin – albeit in a city changed by the destruction of war.
Photos posted to social media show Ameen Mukkad, a Mosul resident driven from his home by IS militants, joyfully playing his violin amid the rubble in Mosul’s left bank.
According to Iraqi-Kurdish broadcaster Rudaw, Mukkad’s instruments were confiscated from him after IS militants discovered that he had continued to engage in his passion despite their iron-fisted rule over Mosul.
“We will take the devil away from you because there is a devil in your body. You are cursed,” the militants’ religious police reportedly told him.
He then went into hiding, patiently waiting for the day when he could once again grace the streets of his city with his music.
Mukkad remained under the radar for six months, until his neighbourhood in the east of the city was liberated on 5 January.
Then that day came.
On Wednesday, Mukkad returned to Mosul to play music he had composed while living under IS.
“I think it will be amazing to perform in my most dearest way,” he prior to returning to Mosul. “I love to perform in the street.”
“My message is to be the hope-maker,” he added.
“I have had so many logical reasons to give up in my life, but I didn’t take them. And I will never do that.”