It has been 2 months since Iraqi forces formally liberated the city of Mosul from ISIS militants following a gruelling 9 month military campaign that began in October 2016. Residents of the second largest city in Iraq have began their new lives, free from the extremist militant group that inflicted so much suffering on millions.
After the end of ISIS rule, the people of Mosul have taken it upon themselves to rid the city of any remnants left behind by the group. Volunteers have take time out to clear their streets schools and mosques, young artists have begun painting over ISIS graffiti and propaganda that had defaced the walls of the city and festivals have been organised to celebrate their liberation as well as the city’s cultural, religious and ethnic diversity.
Young people, in particular, have taken up a more active role to foster cohesion and help restore their city to its former glory. A group of 23 volunteers have come together to restore the University’s iconic library, which was home to the richest collection of books in the country. So far, the group has recovered 34,000 books. Another example includes students from the Institute of Art, who have taken steps to revive Mosul’s artistic heritage.
Civil activists from Iraq held the International Peace Festival in Mosul. The festival is usually held in Baghdad, however the organisers wanted to send a message to the world to show that Mosul is a city of peace, with a rich and diverse culture and history. People from all religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds came together to take part in the festival, including Yazidis, Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, Sabeans, Shia and Sunni Muslims.
“It’s usually held annually in Baghdad but this year we moved it to Mosul in order to send a message to all of Iraq and to the world, that Mosul is the city of peace, Mosul is returning, Mosul has faced a calamity, but it is returning due to the will of its youth,” remarked one of the organisers. This festival is a symbolic reminder that those who threatened to divide the country will always fail.