In Mosul exhibition, Iraqi artists process brutal rule of Daesh

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A woman looks at a painting during an art exhibition at the Mosul Museum Hall in Mosul, Iraq January 30, 2019. Picture taken January 30, 2019. (Reuters)
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People look at the painting and sculpture during an art exhibition at the Mosul Museum Hall in Mosul, Iraq January 30, 2019. Picture taken January 30, 2019. (Reuters)
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A man looks at the painting during an art exhibition at the Mosul Museum Hall in Mosul, Iraq January 30, 2019. Picture taken January 30, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 03 February 2019

In Mosul exhibition, Iraqi artists process brutal rule of Daesh

  • Three years under the oppressive and violent rule of Daesh and the military campaign which drove it out in 2017 left much of the northern city in ruins

MOSUL: A raven perched on the shoulder of a woman with flaming hair is Iraqi artist Marwan Fathi’s symbol for the terrible events he and his home city Mosul have had to endure.
Three years under the oppressive and violent rule of Daesh and the military campaign which drove it out in 2017 left much of the northern city in ruins. Thousands were killed, rendered homeless or maimed. Those who survived are deeply traumatized.
“I still jump awake at night thinking an air strike is about to hit or that they are coming to take one of us,” Fathi, 36, said. “Everyday is a struggle.”
Fathi’s work is on display in “Return to Mosul” — the city’s first art exhibition since before it was seized by Daesh, whose ultra hard-line version of Sunni Islam prohibits most art forms.
Artists from across Iraq are taking part in the six-day show, including many who lived in Mosul when it was in the militants’ grip.
Hawkar Riskin’s haunting work ‘destruction’ depicts a giant skeleton standing on one leg, while Mohammad Al Kinani’s series of paintings — ‘Caliphate I’, ‘Caliphate II’ and ‘Caliphate III’ represents the beginning and end of Daesh, and Mosul’s rebirth.
Fathi said the artists who stayed in the city lived in constant fear and despair.
“There was a time when we considered killing ourselves. We reached that low. But then we thought, what would happen to the children?” Fathi, a professor of fine arts, said.
JONAH AND THE CITY
The show is in the newly re-opened Royal Hall of the Mosul Museum, which was looted and destroyed by Daesh and in the ensuing war to wrest control of the city.
Ahmed Mozahem, another Mosul-born artist, continued to work in secret while the city was under the militants’. Using a writing pad he kept hidden to avoid discovery, Mozahem produced 40 pencil drawings which are now among his most cherished possessions, an expression of what he and his family suffered.
For “City of the Whale,” his painting in the exhibition, Mozahem drew on the story of the prophet Jonah and the whale, which features Nineveh, the ancient Assyrian city which stood roughly where Mosul is today.
Following their capture of the city in 2014, Daesh went on a rampage, destroying many of Mosul’s ancient sites and artefacts, including a shrine believed by many to be Jonah’s tomb.
The militants not only destroyed the city, Mozahem said. “They also killed something inside, our spirit.”
But Matthew Vincent, an American archaeologist, says technology can help preserve some of what was lost. Vincent is a co-founder of a crowdsourced, digital preservation project called Rekrei, which collects photographs of damaged or lost monuments and artefacts to re-create these in 3D representations.
At the Mosul Museum, visitors are now able to catch virtual glimpse of ancient Assyrian treasures destroyed by Daesh. One of them, the Lion of Mosul, was a colossal Assyrian guardian lion from about 860 BCE, one of two which stood at the entrance of the Temple of Ishtar at Nimrud, Iraq.
“It is never going to replace the original but new technology is giving us a path we simply didn’t have before,” Vincent said.


Lebanese patriarch warns of crisis without a government after Adib steps down

Updated 27 September 2020

Lebanese patriarch warns of crisis without a government after Adib steps down

  • Al-Rai said Adib’s resignation had ‘disappointed citizens, especially the youth’
  • Frustration at Adib’s failure to form government was voiced by Lebanon’s religious communities

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top Christian cleric said on Sunday the nation faced “multiple dangers” that would be hard to weather without a government, speaking a day after the prime minister-designate quit following his failed bid to form a cabinet.
Mustapha Adib stepped down on Saturday after hitting a roadblock over how to make appointments in the sectarian system, striking a blow to a French initiative that aimed to haul the nation out of its deepest crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who had pressed Lebanon’s fractious politicians to reach a consensus so that Adib was named on Aug. 31, is to due to speak about the crisis in a news conference in Paris later on Sunday.
Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, leader of the Maronite church, Lebanon’s biggest Christian community, said Adib’s resignation had “disappointed citizens, especially the youth, who were betting on the start of change in the political class.”
Many top politicians, both Christian and Muslim, have held sway for years or even decades. Some are former warlords.
Rai said Lebanon now had to navigate “multiple dangers” without a government at the helm.
Rai’s comments were echoed on the streets of Beirut, where mass protests erupted in 2019 as years of mismanagement, corruption and mounting debts finally led to economic collapse, paralysing banks and sending the currency into freefall.
“There needs to be fundamental change. We need new people. We need new blood,” said 24-year-old Hassan Amer, serving coffee from a roadside cafe in the capital, which was hammered by a huge port blast on Aug. 4 that killed almost 200 people.
In nearby streets, walls were still plastered with graffiti from the protests, including the popular call for sweeping out the old guard: “All of them means all of them.”
Frustration at the failure of Adib, a Sunni Muslim, to form a government was voiced by many across Lebanon’s religious communities. Prime ministers under Lebanon’s sectarian power-sharing system must be Sunnis.
A senior Shiite Muslim cleric, Sheikh Ahmed Qabalan, said on Saturday Adib’s resignation as the economy collapsed could “be described as a disaster,” calling for national unity to deliver reforms, the state news agency reported.
The cabinet formation effort stumbled after Lebanon’s two main Shiite groups, Amal and the heavily armed Iran-backed Hezbollah, demanded they name several ministers, including finance, a key role as the nation draws up a rescue plan.
Saad Al-Hariri, a former prime minister and leading Sunni politician, said in a statement he would not be involved in naming any new premier and said the French plan was “the last and only opportunity to halt Lebanon’s collapse.”
A French roadmap laid out a reform program for a new government to help trigger billions of dollars of international aid.