Life has returned to eastern Mosul after more than six months since it was officially liberated from ISIS control.
Markets in the eastern district of Gogjali, the first site of battles inside the city, have reopened and are bustling, while pallets are full of goods. Even prayers beads, which ISIS banned and considered a form of bidah or innovation, have reappeared in the hands of markets sellers and buyers alike.
Further central near the shrine of the Prophet Jonah (Yunus), which was destroyed by ISIS, another example of the group’s vicious attack on Iraq’s cultural heritage, the smell of perfume fills the air. Various clothing and cosmetic shops have reopened after a period of inaction and subjugation.
Shop owners of these newly-opened stalls express their relief that they can conduct business in their shops without harassment against themselves or their customers.
One man even recalls the strict and strange rules adhered to by ISIS for certain shops and their owners. “They did not allow us to sell underwear, games or even manikins,” said the man, standing inside his shop. “We changed this shop to one in which women must sell [the goods]. But such a woman should not be a random person who works as a saleswoman. This is forbidden, she must be a married person, either your sister or your wife or your mother.”
The eastern part of Mosul, split by the Tigris River and know as al-Sahil al-Aysar or “the Left Bank”, was liberated on 24th January following almost three months of fighting inside the city.
Since operations began on 17th October 2016, 850,000 people have been displaced from the city. 38% of those live in camps outside the city, waiting for reconstruction to take place that will allow them to return to their homes. But for those who have return to their homes, like those in the markets of Gogjali and around the Prophet Jonah shrine, many are seeking a return to normality.