This year’s Ramadan in Mosul has marked a return to normality after the brutal rule of ISIS. With local residents leading the charge in renovating the city, Mosul is becoming the safe cultural hub it once was.
The Ramadan spirit is well and truly alive in the city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, nearly two years after the defeat of ISIS and the misery wrought upon the city by the group during its three year occupation. Poetry, prayer, magnificent feasts and joyous games fill the air during the long Ramadan nights in the city.
Residents of the city have noted that this year’s Ramadan has seen a marked improvement in security and stability in the city. This newfound stability has meant that during iftar (breaking of fast) times, the city is buzzing with people in restaurants, markets and other communal spaces.
“The atmosphere has changed now we’re in Ramadan and is better than before. It’s better than in the past, now people are coming out at night to have a good time in a safe environment,” remarked one resident.
This is in stark contrast to Ramadan under ISIS. Those who lived under the terror group recall how religious occasions such as Ramadan lost all their meaning. ISIS banned all Ramadan manifestations and popular traditions, including street decorations, evening gatherings, public storytelling and gaming competitions. Residents would be cooped up in their homes, afraid to venture outside. The group’s oppressive laws along with the perpetual horrors of war meant that Ramadan under ISIS in Mosul was not a time to embrace community and family, but rather a period of hardship and fear.
While not all the scars left behind by the group during their brief period of occupation have healed completely, people in Mosul show an undying resilience and determination that their city will return to its former glory, with many willing to take it upon themselves to rebuild Mosul.
“We’ll try to renovate this beautiful city that was destroyed along with its infrastructure. We won’t wait for the government, we’ll try to clean things up and rehabilitate and instil love amongst all of ourselves,” said one proud Mosul resident.