This is the first time in 4 years that the local residents of Mosul, Iraq are celebrating the holy month of Ramadan free from ISIS rule. Shopkeepers are returning to their shops to resume life and heritage back to Mosul.
Almost one year has passed since the liberation of the city of Mosul from ISIS. The Old City, which suffered the most destruction and faced the fiercest battles, is still largely devastated. Humanitarian organisations and individual volunteers have begun initiatives to gradually rehabilitate the city, although these still remain insufficient in completely tackling the widespread scale of destruction.
Despite the destruction, many citizens in the Old City of Mosul are going back to the markets to reopen their shops which have been closed for months, if not years.
This comes as many Muslims have begun observing the holy of month of Ramadan last week. Ahmed, a spice seller in the Old City, has returned to his shop in the Bab al-Saray Market and has been welcoming customers looking to buy goods during their observance of the month of Ramadan. During ISIS’ control, Ahmed was forced to close down and change his shop during their rule. Now, however, he has reopened it and says that he will stay in the market because “The market of Bab al-Saray is beloved not only by me but by all the inhabitants of Mosul”.
Observers have noted that there is a visible difference between the Ramadan celebrations in the two sides of Mosul. Ramadan in western Mosul (the Right Bank), which was liberated in July 2017 and contains the Old City, was barely noticeable. This is due to the amount of destruction and displacement that this side has faced. The celebrations in eastern Mosul (the Left Bank), which was liberated in January 2017, were much clearer and visible as people went out shopping and preparing for the month of Ramadan. Eastern Mosul has witnessed increased stability and activity since its liberation almost 18 months ago . This is the second time that this side of Mosul has celebrated Ramadan without the presence of ISIS in its city. “This year, citizens are welcoming Ramadan well. Security and stability have returned to Mosul,” said a Moslawi resident.
Despite having improved security, the remnants of ISIS are still visible. The city still faces many problems including the destroyed homes, the lack of services, destruction of infrastructure and poverty. “ISIS will not be forgotten because of the great physical and moral damage it caused to the people of Mosul,” said another young Moslawi.