Amid the bombed-out ruins of an ancient site revered by both Muslims and Christians in Mosul, Iraqi violinist Ameen Mukdad has held a concert in the city he was forced to flee by so called Islamic State militants.
The 28 year old 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.
Wednesday’s hour-long concert marked his first return to the city that was overrun in 2014.
He said he chose the Tomb of Jonas, or Mosque of the Prophet Younis, as the site is known by Muslims, to symbolize unity.
Mukdad advertised the concert venue and time on social media, a bold move in eastern Mosul at a time the militants still control the Old City across the Tigris river.
Soldiers guarding the venue, which lies near the ancient Nineveh ruins, at first refused access after the boom of a nearby rocket rang out, saying they could not guarantee the public’s safety. They later relented, and troops joined the applauding crowd.
In a sign of how nervous Mosul residents remain six months into the military operation to flush out Islamic State, just 20 people, mostly young men, attended the concert.