Culture

Street art spreads messages of peace on the walls of Mosul

Iraq

Young artists in Mosul are painting murals all over the walls of Mosul in an attempt to beautify the city and erase the horrific messages left by ISIS.

As Mosul undergoes reconstruction post-ISIS, young people are taking the lead on many of the projects in the city in an effort to speed up the return of the city’s residents and reinvigorate the city’s culture.

Young artists from Mosul have initiated a new street art project. Inspired by the statement “make it prettier,” young artists have been prompted to aestheticise their city through street paintings, the themes of which focus on creating a positive outlook for the city.

“The reason why I’ve taken on this initiative is because of the desire for life to continue in the city of Mosul after the destruction of war,” said one of the artists. “As young people from the city, it is our responsibility to collaborate our efforts in an attempt [to] restore life back to our city by pursuing our talents and hobbies.”

Previously, street art in the city consisted of threatening statements and propaganda left behind by fleeing ISIS militants. However, the new street art has been designed to cover over and counter the message of hate by promoting peace and coexistence.

“Artwork is a clear example of coexistence in the city of Mosul,” said one city official. “Visitors of the city will notice the church’s minaret and the Hadba Minaret standing side-by-side,” referencing the Great Mosque of al-Nuri and its famous leaning Hadba minaret, which was destroyed by fleeing militants in June 2017. As a symbolic show of unity in the city, the mural displays the Mosul Grand Mosque, sited on the Left Bank (eastern part) of the city, alongside the Great Mosque of al-Nuri, which is sited on the Right Bank (western Mosul), and the Mosul Latin Church, which was destroyed by militants in April 2016.

The artists have established workshops for the purpose of teaching art to other people in the city. The hope is that through the proliferation of street art, young people can send a clear and positive message that demonstrates the importance of creativity and culture in the post-war lives of Mosul people.

Elsewhere in the city, young volunteers have played a vital role in restoring the city’s libraries and university which were deliberately destroyed by ISIS militants during their occupation of the city. An initiative called “Mosul’s Eye” was set up by young people to collect books that were not burnt from the city’s Central Library. Despite the risk of encountering undiscovered explosives left behind by militants, volunteers are undeterred; the discovery of hundreds of books under the library’s rubble reaffirmed their commitment to restoring the city.