Iraq News

Mosul streets show signs of new life after ISIL

By Khalid al-Taie


An athlete is awarded a medal during a week-long soccer tournament that opened at al-Bakr neighbourhood stadium in Mosul on April 17th. Sixteen teams took part in the tournament, the first since Mosul's liberation. [Photo from Alfaf organisation's Facebook page]

Residents of newly liberated areas of Mosul are quickly picking up the threads of their former lives.

Since Iraqi forces ousted the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) from much of the city, cafés and barbershops have reopened to customers and people wearing modern clothing have emerged onto the streets.

The group had prohibited these activities and dress under its rule.

East Mosul resident Abu Nour recently reopened the café he owns after ISIL forced him to shutter it more than two years ago.

"The café is once again attracting young people, who come for a good time playing dominos and billiards or watching football matches and smoking water pipes," he told Diyaruna.

"All of that was not allowed under ISIL’s rule, and whoever violated it would be flogged or even killed," he added. "Thank God for the grace of freedom."

All aspects of life that were banned by ISIL have quickly resumed in liberated neighbourhoods, said Mosul journalist and blogger Omar Salaheddine al-Hayali.

"Cafés and game arcades have reopened, and youths are once again going there after a long time of lack of activity," he told Diyaruna.

Markets are displaying goods and products that were prohibited under ISIL, such as cigarettes, water pipes and electronic games, he said.

Clothing stores are displaying new wares, and hair salons and barbershops are once again receiving customers, al-Hayali said.

Soccer tournament draws a crowd

In another sign of the city's reawakening, al-Hayali said, a week-long sports tournament opened at al-Bakr neighbourhood stadium on April 17th with the participation of 16 popular soccer teams.

It attracted a high turnout of spectators, he said.

"ISIL banned these activities, considering them a violation of religion, and flogged many young people for merely watching football matches or wearing international sport clubs T-shirts," al-Hayali said.

"People, particularly the youth, were deprived of everything, while the terrorists enjoyed everything and permitted themselves what they denied others," said Ahmed Ghusoub of the Association of Young Journalists in Mosul.

The list of banned things was limitless, he told Diyaruna.

"We were isolated from the world and from all forms of normal life," he said. "Backwardness and expecting death at any moment were the two undisputed realities."

Residents embrace their new life

"Now life has started to rapidly get back to normality," Ghusoub said. "Local residents are doing what they used to do without any fear or punishment".

The liberated people of Mosul are embracing a new life where there is no place for terrorism, harassment or the denial of public rights and liberties, said Ninawa provincial council services committee member Hosam Eddin al-Abbar.

"Shopper traffic has resumed and people are purchasing what they want to and carrying on their hobbies and daily activities freely and safely," he told Diyaruna.

Government offices have started issuing salary back-payments to their employees, al-Abbar said.

"This month, some 1,760 Health Department employees and 2,700 Education Ministry employees have received their overdue salaries," he said.

Public services are seeing a steady improvement, he added, and "the pace of life is getting more active and vibrant every day".

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