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The Mosul violinist who defied Islamic State

Last updated on: April 21, 2017 08:40 IST

Amid the sounds of gunbattle and bombs exploding, on Wednesday, the sound of music arose from the ruins of Mosul in Iraq, all thanks to one man -- Ameen Mukdad.

The 28-year-old Iraqi violinist was responsible for a small concert in the city he was forced to flee by Islamic State militants.

Meet the man behind the music.

All photographs: Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

In 2014, Ameen Mukdad fled Mosul after Islamic State fighters stormed his house and confiscated his instruments, deeming his music a violation of their hardline interpretation of Sunni Islam. The recently-held concert was his homecoming after he fled the violence. 

Mukdad performed his tunes at the Tomb of Jonas, or Mosque of the Prophet Younis, as the site is known by Muslims, to symbolise unity. Asked about the significance behind the location, the 28-year-old Iraqi was quoted as saying by Reuters, "This is a place for all, not just one sect. Daesh (Islamic State) represents no religion but is an ideology that suppresses freedom. Everything about Daesh is wrong."

 

According to Mukdad, anyone who opposes music is ugly. His tunes for the concert, he said, were composed in secret while living under the militants' austere rule.

-- This is no apocalypse film. It is life in Mosul.

 

And how were people informed of his concert? Mukdad, daringly, advertised the concert venue and time on social media. At a time when bombs are being dropped and war is being fought, Mukdad took the brave step of using social media -- a move that is once again looked down by the Islamic State. 

Tahany Saleh, one of the concert-goers, was quoted as saying, "The performance was like a dream. I wanted to come to give a message that war has not stopped life in Mosul. You can see all this damage but still we still want to be happy, we want to listen music."

-- Life inside an Islamic State training camp

However, the concert initially didn't hit the high notes. In fact, soldiers guarding the venue almost shut down the event even before it started when the boom of a rocket rang out. 
But, later, they relented and were soon enjoying the music and applauded the violinist. 

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