Now that the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) has been ousted from Mosul, the Iraqi government is waging a different kind of war in the city.
The new confrontation is not a military one but rather a "war of ideas", as local clerics and officials seek to overcome the extremism ISIS tried to spread among the population while Mosul was under its control.
The Sunni Endowment Diwan in Ninawa province is mounting this ideological offensive through a bundle of procedures that aim to fight extremism and raise awareness about its dangers, diwan head Abu Bakr Kanaan told Diyaruna.
"Several steps have been taken to confront ISIS’s ideology, which distorts the essence of Islam," he said. "After the latest military victory in Mosul, we are preparing ourselves for a new battle to eradicate the ideological influence of terrorists."
To this end, he said, the diwan has instructed all mosque preachers and imams to adhere to certain guidelines in their sermons and lectures that focus on correcting the "dubious religious concepts that ISIS was peddling".
"These preachers have a huge responsibility to guide people and raise their awareness on matters of religion and [explain] how Islam is a compassionate, moderate and peaceful faith," he said. "They have to expose the terrorists' deception and wrongdoing."
Silencing extremist rhetoric
The diwan has organised training sessions and meetings at mosques and via online forums, Kanaan said.
It is trying to "identify any sort of extremist religious rhetoric that seeks to incite and spread hatred and divisiveness or disrupt national unity".
"ISIS gave religion a bad name as it committed atrocities in its name such as rape and torture, and violated all sorts of sanctities," he said. "We want to remove any trace [of their ideology] from people’s minds."
Friday sermons now have to follow a certain approach that involves preparing, printing and disseminating sermons to preachers ahead of the service to be presented to worshippers, Mohammed al-Shamaa, imam and preacher at Mosul's al-Nabi Yunus Mosque, told Diyaruna.
"The sermons focus on several topics, such as confronting extremism and enlightening people on matters of their faith, while denouncing conflict and its causes," he added.
They also discourage people from harbouring terrorists and encourage them to immediately notify the authorities about their hideouts and activities.
Denying ISIS a pulpit
Al-Shamaa said the diwan also will seek to conduct training sessions for mosque preachers in order to build their capacity to spread the correct religious principles and values among the local population.
Other procedures include identifying and closing down mosques and religious centres that ISIS could have established within residential areas during its occupation of Mosul.
"We have to do everything in our power to eradicate the ISIS ideology," Ninawa provincial council member Khalaf al-Hadidi told Diyaruna.
“The liberation of Mosul is complete and terrorism was badly defeated," he said. "However, we now have to fight a different battle that involves burying all of the remnants of the ISIS ideology."
All segments of Mosul society must work together to spread moderate thinking, which respects freedom, human rights and the concepts of co-existence and peace, al-Hadidi said.
He stressed the importance of training preachers and imams "and all the figures shaping public opinion" for this mission.
Such a task involves promoting the values of compassion, fraternity and unity in the curricula for Islamic and civic education, he added.