Tale Of A City, Books &…..
The park was there and the children used to visit the park. In the park, the Islamic State (IS) terrorists used to train the children how to handle firearms! This park recently hosted a book fair, as the children got an opportunity to enjoy the scent of thousands of books. Even books were distributed among them free of cost!
In the past, the IS had imposed a ban on education, music, painting and other forms of art in Mosul and other parts of Iraq. The residents of Mosul experienced only gunshots, firings and terror in recent years. However, the Iraqi forces have liberated the city from the IS militants with the help of foreign forces and allowed the local administration to organise various cultural events. Mosul was the second Iraqi city to host a book fair in recent times. Reports suggest that hundreds of women and girls visited the fair, titled ‘I am Iraqi… I read’. In fact, there is a saying in the Arab world that “Egypt writes, Lebanon publishes and Iraq reads“.
“We don’t value things until we lose them,” said Ali al-Baroodi, an English teacher at Mosul University who has become the city’s unofficial chronicler, cycling around his liberated hometown taking pictures of the damage and the rebuilding process. “Last year’s liberation of eastern Mosul from Daesh (the Arabic acronym derived from the phrase ‘al Dawlah al-Islameyah fi Iraq wal-Sham‘ or literally, ‘Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham’) was like a second birthday for me,” he stressed.
al-Baroodi recalled that the IS had made a serious attempt to destroy the Iraqi art and culture. They not only destroyed statues of eminent poets and writers, but also destroyed works of arts and musical instruments, apart from burning down the university library along with many valuable books. They even murdered a number of musicians and painters. According to the English teacher, the situation deteriorated after the arrival of US forces in Mosul in 2003.
al-Baroodi insisted: “IS is like a ghost – you don’t see it, but it’s there, secretly collecting data on us for when they return.” He further said: “They ruled in the shadows from 2005, and openly after 2014. It is not easy to end their existence. Under Daesh, I died 1,000 times a day. So, the first thing Mosul needs to do is lose its fear.”
Mosul is changing and al-Baroodi records the developments in his camera. However, his father keeps warning him to be more careful (as the old man has witnessed a number of deaths)….. The fear still exists, but the Iraqi city wants to stand back again!
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