Music returns to Mosul with daring concert

Music returns to Mosul with daring concert

SBS World News Radio: An Iraqi violinist has played a concert in Mosul for the first time since fighters of the self-proclaimed Islamic State raided his house and confiscated his instruments.

Ameen Mukdad fled the Iraqi city of Mosul three years ago after IS fighters stormed his house and confiscated his instruments.

Under IS rule, all entertainment was banned.

But that did not stop the young violinist from making music.

Mr Mukdad continued to play at home alone or quietly with a dwindling circle of fellow musicians, closing the windows to avoid detection by the group they called Daesh.

"People always liked music but were afraid to acknowledge this because of them (IS). We opposed them, and we risked death."

His friend Anas Hassan Mahmoud founded a music club with the talented violinist.

"We used to play music at a low level and in closed places, because it was forbidden by Daesh like many other things, including mobile phones. We got rid of our mobile SIM cards. Satellite dishes were forbidden, too. We abandoned all these things, but we could not get rid of the musical instrument, and we decided to keep it. Though it was very dangerous to keep, we could not abandon it."

Despite the risk, at age 28, Mr Mukdad has returned to play in public for the first time.

He advertised the concert venue in Mosul, and the time, on social media.

As a venue, he chose the Tomb of Jonas, also known as the Mosque of the Prophet Younis.

IS destroyed the holy site in 2014 after capturing the city.

The concert was a bold move in eastern Mosul at a time when the militants still control the Old City across the Tigris River.

Mr Mukdad says he chose the site because Muslims know it as a symbol of unity.

"I want to take the opportunity to send a message to the world, and a strike against terrorism and all ideologies which restrict freedom, that music is a beautiful thing. Everyone who opposes music is ugly."

In a sign of how nervous Mosul residents remain six months into the military operation to flush out IS, just 20 people attended.

Soldiers guarding the venue at first refused them access after the boom of a nearby rocket rang out, saying they could not guarantee the public's safety.

But they later relented, and troops joined the applauding crowd.

One of the attendees, Mosul citizen Tahany Saleh, had been forced by the militants to cease her university studies.

She says the performance was "like a dream."

"I hear that he is going to play music at Nabi Younis (Prophet of Islam) Mosque, and I want to come, because this event represents Mosul. This is Mosul with all its beauty. I wanted to come to give a message that war has not stopped life in Mosul. You can see all this damage, but we still want to be happy. We want to listen to music."



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