The Nimrud Monastery, which has survived 19 different ISIS attacks, is hosting the first Festival of Peace in east Mosul.
Members of a wide variety of ethnic and religious groups attended the first ever festival of peace that was held at the Nimrud Monastery in the east of Mosul city, in the Nineveh Province of Iraq.
It is said that the Nimrud Monastery was targeted up to 19 times by ISIS militants, while the terrorist group was still in the area between the years 2014 and 2017. Nevertheless, the Christian Monastery has remained intact and its survival has provided the platform for a peace festival that brought together the variety of colours of Nineveh to one place, to celebrate the people’s resilience in the face of ISIS’ totalitarian and discriminatory ideology.
Christians, Muslims, Yazidis and Shabaks were some of those present at the festival. Speeches were made by community leaders mentioning the unity of the people of Nineveh in the face of harmful sectarianism. Coexistence, tolerance of the ‘other’, and appreciation of one another’s cultural traditions and identities were recurrent themese during the peace festival.
The festival included a variety of activities, such as dressing up in traditional wear and folkloric dances representing each community in the area. Art exhibitions were set up to display books, antiques and precious collectables in addition to art work.
Christians living in the north of Iraq are considered to be a vulnerable minority, especially since the atrocities committed against them by ISIS terrorists over the past few years. Christians in the region are still fearful of the rise of new belligerent forces that may discriminate against them in the future as they believe that the seeds of sectarianism and intolerance are still present in the country. Many Iraqi Christians are mooting the idea of leaving the country to seek a safe and secure life elsewhere, a decision that has already been made by thousands of Christians over the past few years.
Nevertheless, efforts to restore Christian life in Iraq are beginning to show, as Christians resume their cultural and religious practices since the defeat of ISIS. The aim of this peace festival is to show further support to the Christian community and ensure them that they are safe in their homeland.