Tag Archive | 2017

Aleppo Rising: Swimsuits, Concerts and its First ISIS -Free Summer*

Aleppo Rising: Swimsuits, Concerts and its First ISIS -Free Summer*

By Tyler Durden

When taxi and bus drivers take journalists into Syria via the Beirut-Damascus Highway these days, there’s a common greeting that has become a kind of local tradition as the drivers pull into their Damascus area destinations. They confidently tell their passengers: “welcome to the real Syria.” Local Syrians living in government areas are all too aware of how the outside world perceives the government and the cities under its control. After years of often deceptive imagery and footage produced by opposition fighters coordinating with an eager Western press bent on vilifying Assad as “worse than Hitler”, many average Syrian citizens increasingly take to social media to post images and scenes of Syria that present a different vision: they see their war-torn land as fundamentally secular, religiously plural, socially tolerant, and slowly returning to normalcy under stabilizing government institutions.

As the most intense phase of fighting in Aleppo was unfolding in 2016, veteran journalist Stephen Kinzer took to the editorial pages of the Boston Globe to remind Americans that the media has created a fantasy land concerning Syria. Kinzer painted a picture quite opposite the common perception:

Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press… For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents:

“Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.”

Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it…

The United States has the power to decree the death of nations. It can do so with popular support because many Americans — and many journalists — are content with the official story.

Now, during the first summer of relative calm Aleppo residents have seen in over four years of grinding conflict, the city commonly referred as “the jewel of Syria” is once again rising from the ashes. Foreign journalists are also accessing places like East Aleppo and the heart of the walled ‘old city’ for the first time. Some few honest correspondents, unable to deny the local population’s spirit of hopefulness and zeal with which they undertake rebuilding projects, acknowledge that stability and normalcy have returned only after the last jihadists were expelled by the Syrian government and its allies.

Aleppo orchestra concert, Summer 2017/via Sarah Abdallah

A Western press and political class which generally mourned the liberation of the city from al-Qaeda groups like Nusra (AQ in Syria), calling government actions a ‘massacre’ and ‘genocide’, now finds a reality that can’t be ignored or denied: Aleppines are returning to ravaged parts of the city to rebuild, they are enjoying nightlife, going to music concerts, staying out late at cafes; families are swimming at local pools, women are strolling around in t-shirts and jeans free of the oppressive Wahhabi fighters that once ruled parts of the city.

Kinzer’s Boston Globe piece further concluded that the entire web of assumptions on Syria woven by the media and fed to the public over the years were “appallingly distant from reality” and warned that these lies are “likely to prolong the war and condemn more Syrians to suffering and death.” As new photos continue to emerge of the real Aleppo and the real Syria it is essential to revisit the most destructive among the lies that have helped serve to prolong this tragic and brutal war.

Aleppines didn’t want to live under Wahhabi Islamist rule

Andalusia Swimming Pool in Aleppo, Summer 2017/via Syria Daily

 

According to multiple eyewitness reports and studies, the story of how war entered Aleppo’s environs was not primarily one of mass public protests and government crackdown, but of an aggressive jihadist insurgency that erupted suddenly and fueled from outside the city. According to then Indian ambassador to Syria, V.P. Haran (Amb. to Syria from 2009 to 2012), Aleppo on the whole was unwillingly dragged into the war after remaining silent and stable while other cities raged. In an interview which detailed his own on-the-ground experience of the opening years of war in Syria, the ambassador said:

Soon parts of Latakia, Homs and Hama were chaotic but Aleppo remained calm and this troubled the opposition greatly. The opposition couldn’t get the people in Aleppo to rise up against the regime so they sent bus loads of people to Aleppo. These people would burn something on the streets and leave. Journalists would then broadcast this saying Aleppo had risen.

Why did it take until July 2012 – well over a year since conflict in Syria began – for Aleppo to see any fighting? Why did residents not “rise up” against the government?

The answer is simple. The majority of Syrians, whether Sunni, Shia, Alawi, Christian, Kurd, or Ismaili, are sane individuals – they’ve seen what life is like under the “alternative” rebel rule marked by sharia courts, smoke and alcohol bans, public floggings, street executions, desecration of churches, and religious and ethnic cleansing of minorities. They recognize that there is a real Syrian national identity, and it goes beyond mere loyalty to the current ruling clique that happens to be in power, but in Syria as a pluralistic Levantine society that rejects Saudi style theocracy.

Rebuilding Aleppo, Summer 2017. Latin Parish of St. Francis/via Sarah Abdallah

 

The kind of religious and cultural pluralism represented in the liberal democracies of the West are present in Syria, ironically, through a kind of government-mandated “go along, get along” policy backed by an authoritarian police state. One can even find Syrian Jews living in the historic Jewish quarter of Damascus’ walled old city to this day.

Syrian urban centers have for decades been marked by a quasi-secular culture and public life of pluralist co-existence. Aleppo itself was always a thriving merchant center where a typical street scene would involve women without head-coverings walking side by side with women wearing veils (hijab), cinemas and liquor stores, late night hookah smoke filled cafés, and large churches and mosques neighbouring each other with various communities living in peaceful co-existence. By many accounts, the once vibrant secular and pluralist Aleppo is now coming back to life (and largely never left government-held West Aleppo).

“Moderates” did not “liberate” Aleppo, but gave cover to an ISIS and al-Qaeda invasion

One of the most under reported and least understood events surrounding the history of how all of Aleppo province and the Northern Syria region became a hotbed of foreign jihadists is the fall of the strategically located Menagh airbase near Aleppo. As a Reuters timeline of events indicates:

In early 2012 rebels take control of the rural areas northwest of Aleppo city, besieging the Menagh military air base and the largely Shiite towns of Nubl and Zahra.

After a lengthy siege of Menagh, the base finally fell to jihadist factions under the command of the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) in August of 2013. This event was key to rebel fighters gaining enough territory to cut off the Aleppo-Damascus Highway, which allowed them to encircle all of Aleppo for much of that year. But a little known yet hugely important detail of the Menagh episode is that rebels only got the upper hand after being joined by ISIS suicide bombers commanded by Omar the Chechen (ISIS’ now deceased most senior military commander). The fall of this government base is what opened a permanent jihadi corridor in the North, allowing terrorists to flood the area. The commander for the operation was US Ambassador Robert Ford’s personal friend, Col. Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi, who was head of the US and UK funded Revolutionary Military Council of Aleppo (FSA). Okaidi worked in tandem with ISIS military commander Omar the Chechen and his crew for the operation – all while being supported by the United States and Great Britain.

Concerning U.S.-backed Okaidi’s close relationship to the ISIS faction in the summer of 2013, there is actually video evidence and eyewitness testimony (U.S. Ambassador Ford himself later admitted the relationship to McClatchy News). Amazingly, the video, titled “US Key Man in Syria Worked Closely with ISIL and Jabhat al Nusra” never had very widespread public distribution, even though it has been authenticated by the top Syria expert in the U.S., Joshua Landis, of the University of Oklahoma, and author of the hugely influential Syria Comment. Using his Twitter account, Dr. Landis commented: “in 2013 WINEP advocated sending all U.S. military aid thru him [Col. Okaidi]. Underscores U.S. problem with moderates.”

The video, documenting (now former) U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford’s visit to FSA Col. Okaidi in Northern Syria, also shows the same Col. Okaidi celebrating with and praising a well-known ISIS commander, Emir Abu Jandal, after conducting the joint Menagh operation. In an interview, this U.S. “key man” at that time, through which U.S. assistance flowed, also praised ISIS and al-Qaeda as the FSA’s “brothers.” Abu Jandal was part of Omar the Chechen’s ISIS crew assisting the FSA. Further video evidence also confirms Omar the Chechen’s role at Menagh. The videos also show Okaidi proudly declaring that al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda in Syria) makes up ten percent of the FSA. The FSA was always more of a branding campaign to sell the rebels as “moderates” to a gullible Western media than a reality on the ground; it was a loose coalition of various groups espousing militant jihad with the end goal of establishing an Islamist polity in Syria.

Foreign fighters flooded Aleppo Province. The U.S. State Department’s own numbers: read the full report at STATE.GOV

In the end, terror groups like ISIS enjoyed a meteoric rise in Syria due to U.S. government and media support for these so-called “moderate rebels” – all entities which collectively sought regime change at all costs – even the high cost of mass civilian death and suffering that inevitably results from unleashing an insurgency in urban areas.

The Syrian Army and government were never “Shia” or sectarian-based

The Arab Spring narrative was the ideological lens through which experts initially pit the oppressive supposedly “Alawite/Shia regime” against a popular uprising of Syria’s majority Sunnis. As Sunnis make up about 70% of Syria’s population, it was simply a matter of numbers, and of time. But this view proved overly simplistic, and according to one little known West Point study, utterly false. It was commonly assumed that the Syrian Army was a hollowed out Alawite institution with its Sunni conscripts apprehensively waiting for the right moment to defect to the rebel side. This was the fundamental supposition behind years of repetitious predictions of the Assad regime’s impending collapse, and predicated upon a view of the Syrian military as a fundamentally weak and sectarian institution. But West Point’s 2015 study entitled Syria’s Sunnis and the Regime’s Resilience concluded the following:

Sunnis and, more specifically, Sunni Arabs, continue to make up the majority of the regular army’s rank-and- file membership.

The study’s unpopular findings confirmed that the Syrian Army, which has been the glue holding the state together throughout this war, remains primarily a Sunni enterprise while its guiding ideology is firmly nationalistic and not sectarian.

The highest ranking Syrian officer to fall victim to rebel attack was General Dawoud Rajiha, Defense Minister and former chief of staff of the army, in a major 2012 bombing of a Damascus national security office. General Rajiha was an Orthodox Christian. Numerous Christians and officers of other religious backgrounds have served top positions in the Syrian Army going back decades – a reflection of Syria’s generally nationalist and religiously tolerant atmosphere.

Mainstream press did not report from Aleppo, but was hundreds of miles away.

Outside the Citadel of Aleppo: life returning to normal, Summer 2017/via Syria Daily

 

The heavily populated urban areas of Syria continue to be held by the government. But most reporting has tended to dehumanize any voice coming out of government held areas, which includes the majority of Syrians. The war has resulted in over 6.5 million internally displaced people – the vast majority of which have sought refuge in government territory.

The fact remains that there are some popular figures in the establishment media and analyst community who speak and write frequently about Syria, and yet have never spent a significant amount of time in the country. Throughout much of the war they’ve primarily reported from Western capitals – thousands of miles away – or, if they are in a Middle East bureau, without ever leaving the safety of places like Beirut or Istanbul. Fewer still have the necessary Arabic language skills to keep pace with local and regional events. Some have never been to Syria at all. They become willing conduits of rebel propaganda beamed through WhatsApp messages and Skype interviews, which was especially the case when it came to the battle for Aleppo. That much of the world actually considers these people as authorities on what’s happening in Syria is a joke – it’s beyond absurd.

Outdoor concert venue and Aleppo springs back to life, Summer 2017/via Maram Kasem

 

We are hopeful that the jihadist menace will be fully expelled and that the international proxy war which has taken so many lives and reduced much of a beautiful nation to rubble will finally come to an end. Aleppines and other Syrians are rebuilding – they are optimistically preparing for the future. Welcome to the real Aleppo.

Final national exams just before summer 2017/via Syria Daily

 

Source*

Related Topics:

Ancient Aleppo Citadel Hosts Carnival for Schoolchildren*

Father of Famous Aleppo Boy Just Exposed How the US and White Helmets Lied to the World*

Syrian Army Encircles ISIS Last Stronghold in Aleppo*

Public Buses in Aleppo take to the Streets after 5 Years of U.S.’s ISIS war on Syria*

British Generals Arrive in Syria to Recruit Aleppo Terrorists*

Cuban Officials Visit Syrian Military Hospital, Offer Support*

U.S. Vast Military Buildup in Raqqa City*

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Why Is the Pope against Trump and Putin Forming an Alliance*

Why Is the Pope against Trump and Putin Forming an Alliance*

 

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G20 Leaders Forced to Stay Indoors by Protests*

Pope Francis Names Jesuit as Vatican Doctrine Chief*

Pope Francis Calls for ‘One World Government’ To ‘Save Humanity’*

Canon Lawyers and Theologians to Hold Conference on ‘deposing the pope’*

Has Pope Francis Removed Every Single Member of the Vatican Pro-life Academy*

Pope Orders Purge of Freemasons from Knights of Malta*

The Election Of The New Black Pope, General of The Jesuits*

Pope Francis signed off a binding “Galactic Agreement”*

This Month the U.N. Launches a Blueprint for NWO with the Help of the Pope*

Pope and the One World Religion?*

Iraqi Army Declares Mosul Fully Free*

Iraqi Army Declares Mosul Fully Free*

The Iraqi Army finally recaptured the key town of Mosul, ISIL’s de facto capital in the Arab country, after 9-month of bloody battle with the Takfiri terrorists in Nineveh province.

A Federal Policeman in a ruined cinema Credit: Kaino Little

The military operation by Iraqi Army troops to liberate the Northern city of Mosul from ISIL militants intensified in recent weeks, as Baghdad forces laid full siege on the terrorists in the few districts that were under the Takfiri group’s control with the only hundreds of fighters.

The General Command of Iraq’s Joint Operation announced Saturday in a statement that the old part of Mosul city (Old Mosul district) came under the full control of the Iraqi forces.

The Old City is home of the 850 year-old Grand al-Nuri Mosque and is highly symbolic because it was there that leader of the ISIL group, Ibrahim al-Samarrai, also known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared himself the so-called caliphate of the Takfiri terrorist group, shortly after the flashpoint city fell to terrorists in June 2014 and became their de facto capital in Iraq.

Federal Police fire on Islamic State positions in west Mosul Credit: Kaino Little

But, the ISIL militants committed another historical crime by blowing up the ancient al-Nuri mosque and its historical al-Hadba minaret, as the group’s days in the war-torn city were numbered due to rapid advances of Iraqi soldiers.

The Iraqi state TV declared approximately ten days ago that the ISIL collapsed in Mosul after the army regained control of al-Nuri mosque. The Iraqi troops won back control of the wrecked historic mosque of Mosul.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced in October 2016, the start of a military operation to recapture Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq which fell to the ISIL since 2014.

Iraqi Federal Police attempting to free Mosul from ISIL militants. Credit: Kaino Little

 

Baghdad declared earlier in January that the Iraqi troops have managed to capture the Eastern part of the key ISIL stronghold.

The second largest city in Iraq fell to the ISIL group in 2014, when the Takfiri terrorists began a campaign of death and destruction in the Arab country.

The United Nations predicted that it will cost more than $1 billion to repair basic infrastructure in Mosul. In some of the worst affected areas, almost no buildings appear to have escaped damage.

An estimated 862,000 people have been displaced from Mosul ever since the battle began nine months ago. A total of 195,000 civilians have also returned to the liberated areas of Eastern and Western Mosul.

Source*

Related Topics:

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Iraqis Travel to Mosul to Celebrate Eid in a Show of Solidarity*

U.K. to Consider Stripping Tony Blair of Immunity over Role in Iraq War*

Iraqi Top Cleric Hailed by Iraqi Prime Minister in his Role in the Fight against ISIS*

Iraq Declares ‘fall’ of ISIS as Military Retakes Landmark Mosul Mosque*

G20 Leaders Forced to Stay Indoors by Protests*

G20 Leaders Forced to Stay Indoors by Protests*

By David Gilbert

As Angela Merkel welcomed the leaders of the most powerful countries on the planet to Hamburg on Friday, security services in Germany’s second-largest city are on high alert after violent clashes with anti-capitalist protesters Thursday night left over 100 police officers injured. Up to 100,000 protesters are expected to arrive at the site of the G-20 summit over the next couple of days.

German Chancellor Merkel and world leaders including Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Emmanuel Macron, and Theresa May seek to tackle topics like free trade, terrorism, climate change and migration, but protesters have planned huge marches through the streets to voice their opposition to the G-20, which they say has failed to solve the biggest issues facing the planet.

Because of the protests, first lady Melania Trump was unable to attend a meeting of leaders’ spouses Friday. “We have no security clearance from the police to leave the guest house,” a spokeswoman told German news agency DPA.

Many leaders have been holed up in their hotel rooms, unable to get to meetings because of action on the streets.

On Friday morning, activists resumed their actions across the city, and while the summit began without incident, police are already calling for major reinforcements from other parts of the city. The Hamburg police reported that a signal flare was fired at one of their helicopters this morning and only narrowly missed.

“Welcome to Hell” marches on G20 leaders in Hamberg, Germany

Protestors are also burning cars and setting off smoke bombs around the city as fears grow that the violence seen Thursday night will escalate.

Protesters organized the “Welcome to Hell” march on the eve of the two-day summit, with an estimated crowd of 12,000 people gathering by the historic harbour area – the start of a route that was to take them toward the venue where the G-20 summit will be held.

However, within 300 meters, the protest was halted by armed police cars blocking the route. During an hourlong standoff, protesters chanted and waved banners. When police asked one group of activists — known as the “black bloc” — to remove their masks, they were reportedly attacked with bottles and stones.

The police responded with water cannons and pepper spray in a bid to separate the group of masked protesters from the rest of the crowd, which was largely peaceful. After the protest was broken up, German media said, skirmishes broke out at different points in the city, with reports of cars being damaged, stores vandalized, and barricades erected from fences and bins.

Police are also investigating if a fire overnight at a luxury Porsche car dealership in the north of the city, which damaged eight vehicles, was linked to the protests — in what could be a worrying foretaste of what’s to come. Police said they were “horrified by the violence.”

The German police said at least 111 officers were injured in the attack, though most received only minor injuries. Three policemen had to receive treatment in hospital, including a helicopter pilot who was injured when laser pointers were directed at him.

About 20,000 police officers were due on duty to watch over the main demonstration, but that number is likely to rise in the coming days, with two major marches planned for Saturday expected to draw crowds of up to 100,000 people. Protesters from across Europe are flocking to Hamburg to highlight inequality and economic greed.

The protesters have a variety of issues they want addressed by the world’s leaders, including calls for better environmental protection, denunciations of ethnic nationalism, and opposition to free trade — ironically, a viewpoint they share with Trump.

One German protester said he hoped the demonstrations would bring about more economic equality.

“I’m not anti-government, but something has to change so human beings get to enjoy a little bit of the wealth,” Sebastian Keller, who grew up in east Germany and was 8 years old when the country was reunified, told the Washington Post.

Thursday’s violent clashes will not be the images Merkel wants Germans to focus on this week, as she seeks to use the summit as an opportunity to demonstrate her ability on the world stage, ahead of her re-election bid in September.

Source*

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‘Unless G20 Summit is Held on a Deserted Island, there will be protests’

Recolonalization: G20 Compact with Africa in Berlin: Implications for EU-Africa Relations*

G20 Reasons Why Your Fortune is Not Your Own!

The Beast of Burden on the Path of Enlightenment*

The Manifesto of the Awakened*

The Foundation of the West is Finally Shaking, Its Future Unсertain*

Tens of Thousands Swarm London in Massive Elite Uprising, Media Silence*

A Pop Star Who Sings About Social Justice Is Uganda’s Newest Legislator*

A Pop Star Who Sings About Social Justice Is Uganda’s Newest Legislator*

By James Propa

 

Bobi Wine at one of his rallies. Photo courtesy of Bobi Wine’s official Facebook page. Used with permission.

 

Following a high-profile election campaign that culminated in his arrest at his final rally, Ugandan pop star Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, famously known as Bobi Wine, is now officially a politician.

Wine is not new to activism. His music has for a while been focused on social justice issues. But singing about policy issues is not enough. On 29 June, he finally crossed the line to become a policy maker after securing a parliamentary seat in Kyadondo, winning 75% of the votes in a by-election.

He began singing about social justice in 2005. During the 2016 general election he refused to take part in a song that praised and campaigned for incumbent President Museveni — who has been in office for three decades — to stay in power. Many top musicians took part in the song that Wine refused to take part in.

One of his more popular songs, “Ghetto”, talks about police brutality against people residing in the slums of Kampala and the inadequate services that delivered to them.

Wine refers to himself as “The Ghetto President” and “Omubanda Wakabaka,” loosely translated as “The King’s Gang Star”. He is the fifth person from the country’s art fraternity to go into politics, following in the footsteps of Ali Ndawula Wowoto, Sulaiman Madada, Judith Babirye and Kato Lubwama, who now serve as members of parliament.

His campaign was characterized by music, with large numbers of musicians, radio personalities and TV presenters turning up and using their social media accounts to push his message to the electorate, employing the hashtag #BikwaseKyagulanyi, which means “hand over everything to Kyagulanyi”.

At his final rally, he was arrested by the police, who alleged that Wine was holding the gathering in a wrong venue close to where President Museveni was campaigning for his candidate. The video below by NTV Uganda, a local broadcaster, shows him being detained. He pleads with the police, saying he is fighting for people’s rights.

 

Nevertheless, he won the by-election handily. He secured 25,659 votes, defeating Sitenda Sebalu, the ruling NRM party candidate, who only received 4,556 votes. Wine’s platform focusing on unemployment and other issues that affect youth, who he believes are misrepresented, captured huge amounts of support.

After he was announced as the winner of the election, he tweeted to his 28,000 followers that something profound has happened in Uganda’s electoral politics.

THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN
This 29th day of June marks a turning point in the politics of our country! History has… https://t.co/4cIbj3mHXu

— BOBI WINE (@HEBobiwine) June 29, 2017

Ugandans took to social media to congratulate the 35 year-old celebrated artist on his election into Parliament. The list of supporters included politicians, musicians and ordinary people on the media platforms.

A few hours before the electoral commission announced the results, NRM Secretary General Justine Lumumba tweeted his message of congratulations:

Congratulations to the people of Kyadondo East, congratulations to @BobiWineOmuband Kyagulanyi Robert Sentamu.

— JustineKasuleLumumba (@JustineLumumba) June 29, 2017

And Kizza Besigye, the first runner up in the 2016 presidential campaign, also came out to applauded Bobi Wine’s victory; Besigye never campaigned for him as his party had fronted another candidate in the election:

Landslide victory for the HE Bobi Wine. Congratulations-PEOPLE POWER!! That’s why Wakiso people weren’t allowed to vote 2016. @FDCOfficial1 pic.twitter.com/8wV7HwuQbY

— Kifefe Kizza-Besigye (@kizzabesigye1) June 29, 2017

 

Fellow artist Jose Chameleone congratulated Bobi Wine on his win:

When we believe, We Achieve.
Congrats to Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi,Family,Friends and Kyadondo East for the remarkable victory .
Leaders are chosen by God. So, May he guide you as you deliver Kyadondo East to the promised Land.

Fellow musicians Radio and Weasel also thanked Bobi Wine for his efforts towards giving the poor a voice through his music and now in politics as well:

You Have Brought The Ghetto UpTown. Congrats Broda Bobi Wine

In the past, Bobi Wine was known for the use of marijuana and beefing with fellow musician Bebe Cool. Yet the people of Kyadondo East were willing to overlook those things and elected him to parliament. The challenge for him going forward is to ensure that he works hard to catch up to his fellow parliamentarians that have been in the legislature for more than a year and deliver on the expectations of the people he represents and the country at large.

Source*

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Uganda Bans Dutch film for ‘glorifying homosexuality’*

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Uganda: A Brilliant Genocide*

Jews Kicked Out Of Uganda*

Newborns Being Stolen from top Uganda Hospital*

Charging By Solar Energy in Uganda Gets Popular in U.S.

Hundreds of British Artists Announce Cultural Boycott of Israel*

To Inspire Artists to Become Activists*

Iraqis Travel to Mosul to Celebrate Eid in a Show of Solidarity*

Iraqis Travel to Mosul to Celebrate Eid in a Show of Solidarity*

By Sali Mahdy

 

‘Mosul celebrates first Eid in three years with the Eid in Mosul campaign’ uploaded on June 28, 2017 by the AlMawsleya channel.

A group of around 300 Iraqis recently traveled from south and central Iraq to Mosul to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr holiday with their newly liberated compatriots.

In the summer of 2014, the militant group Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh) drove out Iraqi security forces and seized control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in a territorial sweep of much of northern Iraq.

It was in Mosul that the militant group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared an Islamic Caliphate spanning Syria and Iraq.

Since then, life for Mosul’s residents has been one of fear, oppression, and hardship.

Daily life changed for the worse with the persecution of minorities, food and fuel shortages, and intimidation and harsh punishment.

An effort to retake the city by Iraqi security forces began in October 2016. After eight months of intense battle just a handful of neighbourhoods remain under the group’s control, prompting Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to recently declare the end of the Islamic State.

The “Eid in Mosul” campaign was organized by a group of Iraqi activists led by Hamid al-Sayed, Ali al-Touki, and Mohammed al-Raji.

Originally an idea to visit old friends who had been trapped under Islamic State rule, the plan turned into a full-blown campaign after generating enormous interest on Facebook. More than 1,700 people expressed interest in joining the trip but security conditions would only allow 300.

This Eid was the first in three years in which Maslawis (people of Mosul) were able to publicly celebrate. The day was filled with events forbidden under the Islamic State, including poetry readings, theatre, and live music. Mosul’s visitors also brought a gift of more than 1,000 books from Baghdad as part of the “I am Iraq, I Read” campaign, an initiative promoting culture and a more educated Iraq. This gift is a start to replacing thousands of books destroyed in Mosul’s libraries by the Islamic State.

The day was joyous, bringing together Iraqis to not only celebrate the holiday, but to also celebrate the liberation of Mosul. Scenes hit social media of men and women from across the country singing the national anthem and chanting

“Brothers, Sunnis and Shia, this country is not for sale,” demonstrating a feeling of unbreakable unity shared among Iraqis.

While the event was mostly organized by activists, the government stepped in to help providing transportation and security for the event.

 

Men and women of Mosul greeted the “freedom caravan” at Mosul University.

 

Crowds gather chanting “welcome to Mosul” and singing the national anthem.

 

 

Over 1,000 books donated to restock Mosul’s libraries.

Ameen Mukdad, violinist from Mosul, plays a traditional Maslawi folk song.

The evening concluded with a fireworks display celebrating Eid and Mosul’s liberation.

Source*

Related Topics:

Iraq Declares ‘fall’ of ISIS as Military Retakes Landmark Mosul Mosque*

U.K. to Consider Stripping Tony Blair of Immunity over Role in Iraq War*

Iraqi Top Cleric Hailed by Iraqi Prime Minister in his Role in the Fight against ISIS*

Federal Judge Puts Immediate Stop to Deportations of 1,444 Iraqis in U.S.*

Syrian Army, Hezbollah Reaches Border with Iraq for the First Time in Years*

The Treasure at the Heart of Iraq

Life returns to Hammar Marshes, Iraq*

Ex British Ambassador Tells How U.K., US, and George Bush Sr. Scripted Iraq and Afghanistan Wars*

Trump-Israel Struggling to Save ISIS to divide and Conquer Syria and Iraq*

Jeremy Corbyn Praises Muslim Heroes of Grenfell Tower fire in Eid Message*

Jeremy Corbyn Praises Muslim Heroes of Grenfell Tower fire in Eid Message*

 

 

In his Eid al-Fitr message to British Muslims, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn praises the Muslim heroes of the Grenfell Tower fire who bravely came to the rescue of residents after Tarawih prayers.

Source*

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Grenfell Tower Resident Praise Muslim Youth for their Bravery in Helping Survivors*

Muslims Ramadhan Waking may have saved Grenfell Tower Residents’ Lives*

27 Apartment Blocks in 15 areas fail Fire Tests – UK gov’t*