This is the first time in three years that the people of Mosul will be able to celebrate Ramadan freely without the presence of ISIS in their city.
For three consecutive years, between 2014 and 2017, Ramadan for Mosul’s residents was spent under the harsh rule of ISIS militants. In 2017, the holy month, which ended on the 24th June, was observed towards the end of the battle by the Iraqi Security forces to eliminate the militants in the city.
Residents of Mosul recount their experience of observing Ramadan under the rule of ISIS and in a state of war, where food and water supplies were scarce. For many people, suhoor, the morning meal before the start of the day’s fast, consisted of just water, or bread and water, which had to last them the entire day.
Following three years of suffering under ISIS, Ramadan 2018 signifies a turning point for Mosul’s residents, who have experienced the gradual return of normal life and an economic revitalisation of their city since the defeat of ISIS militants in July 2017.
“This year the month of Ramadan will be an introduction [of] good and hope for people,” said one of the city’s residents. “Life will be normal and Mosul will return better than before.”
Another resident highlighted the need for the city’s population to unite together for the holy month of Ramadan, regardless of their ethnicity or sect to defeat the proliferation of sectarianism in the city. ISIS capitalised on the sectarian divisions that had grown in the city since the 2003 war, which has a majority Sunni population, when the group seized control in June 2014.
“This Ramadan will be a month of good, blessings and safety for Iraq,” the resident of the city said. “This month we must unite with each other and renounce sectarianism.”
There was an abundance of markets in the streets of Mosul to mark the beginning of the holy month, supplying residents with an array of goods to see them through the first free Ramadan since 2013.