In attendance of Mosul's political, religious and tribal leaders and local people, the cornerstone of the iconic Nuri Mosque was laid, heralding a new beginning for a monument and a community ravaged by ISIS militants.
In attendance of political and religious leaders, tribal elders, United Nations representatives and the local people, the cornerstone of Mosul’s Nuri Mosque was laid, heralding a new beginning for a city that has suffered so much under ISIS militants.
Located at the very centre of Mosul’s Old City, the Nuri Mosque was built over 800 years ago. Its most recognisable feature was its leaning minaret, earning it the nickname “al-Hadbaa” – the Hunchback. The minaret and its attached mosque was an instantly recognisable feature of the skyline of western Mosul and was part of the city’s fabric throughout its turbulent history.
The latest chapter of that history started in 2014, when ISIS militants took over Mosul. It was here in the Nuri Mosque that the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced the establishment of a caliphate. For the next three years, the group’s black glad hung from the minaret as a display of its control over the city.
On June 2017, ISIS militants were steadily losing ground against the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). The Old City and the neighbourhoods surrounding the mosque were the location of their last stand. As the ISF closed in, the militants, perhaps in a final act of spite, blew up the minaret, destroying it as well as much of the attached mosque.
The reconstruction of the mosque has been a topic of frequent discussion since the city was liberated. On April 2018, the United Arab Emirates have agreed to fund its reconstruction, donating some $50 million for it. Subsequent meetings with UAE officials determined the course of the reconstruction, which will not only restore the minaret and the Nuri Mosque but also build a museum to remember its history and a school.
The project, which is expected to take two years, is part of a larger drive to rebuild the local community of the Old City which has been devastated over the course of the war. It is hoped that the rebuilding of the mosque and the subsequent reconstruction of schools and hospitals will enable the reconstruction of the local community itself.