Amidst the destruction, the people of Mosul are now holding the first music festival in the city after years of ISIS rule.
A number of artists in the city of Mosul have gathered together to organise a music festival to celebrate the city’s rich history and heritage. This is the first major music festival held in the city since its liberation from ISIS militants at the end of last year. For three years, music was strictly forbidden in the city, along with a wide variety of other cultural practices and forms of artistic expression.
ISIS ensured that any creative expression or production was done solely to serve the group’s propaganda. As a result, talented artists in Mosul were either hunted down or were forced into hiding and were deprived of expressing themselves artistically for fear of being targeted by the group.
For many of these artists, music and art is not just a vocation or profession, but a fundamental part of their lives. “I have embraced and kissed all those who play the guitar as if they were my children, even those who came with me were surprised by my longing for music. I told them that music is my soul and my life,” said Fadhil al-Badri, a prominent aoud player in the city.
The organisers of the festival symbolically organised the festival in the same park that ISIS used to train children to become fighters and killers. The organisers intentionally chose this area in order to show that the city is moving on from the three years of torment and that what once was a symbol of ISIS’ most despicable actions could be turned into a site where Moslawis can express themselves through their art.
“Through music or soft power, we can overcome the effects of these calamities and obstacles that directly affected the civil and intellectual life,” said Kareem Wasfi, one of the organisers of the festival. He attests that events such as this will help the city overcome years of ISIS rule.