Al Salihiyya: The Revival of an Ottoman Hammam in Old Mosul.

Hammam al Salihiyya, one of the old Ottoman Hammams in Old Mosul, built in 1755and was destroyed during the battle to retake the city from ISIS.

The owner himself decided with the support of the local community to rebuild and revive the Hammam for its historical importance. Designs have already been proposed and prepared by local companies and architects to preserve the same structure of the Hammam.

Since the Iran-backed governor of Mosul have attempted to demolish the Old City to build a hub of markets and “Modern City” full of restaurants and the people responded in promising to prevent any attempts to demolish the heritage of Mosul.

The design of the Hammam

In Pictures: The Revival Of Sham’un Al-Safa (Simon Peter) School in Old Mosul

Sham’un Al-Safa (Simon Peter) is one of the oldest official schools for Christian in Mosul established and attached to oldest church with the same name ( built circa 3rd century). The school was established in 1855 by Audishu V Khayyath (1827 – 1899) after he returned from Rome where he finished his studies in the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.

The school was well known for its role to provide the Christian community of Mosul with modern education.

It was severely damaged during the battle to retake Mosul from ISIS. After the libration, an initiative by Young Muslim Mosulis was launched to revive the school, and after few days the school was completely recovered.

In the photos you can see how the school has revived and it is important to mention that such initiatives are not new or not a surprise for the Mosuli community that ISIS tried to destroy. Its coexistence is deep into the society of Mosul but even with that, we need to support more interaction and to convince the Christian to return back and contribute to the revival of Mosul.

I invite the Fr. Najeeb Michail the Archbishop of Mosul to call for a general congress for the leaders of different faiths in Mosul to sit together and discuss the future of Mosul to address the real problems in order to find a better social code between all the communities of Mosul and to contribute to the protection and preservation of our heritage.

Patriarch Abdisho V. KhayatJS.jpg
Chaldäisch Kath. Patriarch Abdisho V. Khayat
Audishu V Khayyath meets with Yazidi leaders in Mosul, c. 1895

Recovered: More shops opened in Old Mosul

With only local efforts by Mosulis, more shops are reopening in Old Mosul and its Old Bazaars. In the photos you can see that more shops from Babu-l Saray have opened after they were rebuilt by its owners. The rehabilitation and recovery of the old markets can help Mosul recover faster as it brings more jobs to endorse the local economy of the city. The more and faster recovery of the Old City of Mosul shall help stopping the current attempts by the governor of Mosul to demolish the Old City and replace it with ugly modern shopping centers. It will also help the citizens to return home from the IDPs camps.

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

Unearthed: Inscription of the Mosuli historian’s house

Unearthed in Old Mosul today in Mayyasa district the inscription of the construction of the House of the Mousli historian and poet Yahia b. AbdulaJalil b. Yunus died 1784. the inscription reads:

خيّم اللطف على منزلكم
ولها الله بكل الخير حبى
عمرت تعمير يمن وهنا
فجلى الكرب بها والقلب نجى
ولهذا يا أحبتي أرّخو :
نفح الأرواح في دارك يحيى
سنة ١١٧٣

May kindness fills your house
and may god with give reward you with godness
the house is built with blessings and happeness
That removed all sandness and protectd thee heart
So, my beloved ones, write its history
thee brought life your house, Yahia

Year 1173 H\1759

We know from the inscription that the house was built in 1759 and belongs to Yahia Al Jalili. It is unusual to see such inscriptions to document the construction of houses. It is usually for Mosques.

Since the destruction of Mosul and we are still discovering and unearthing heritage of Mosul. It is a good sign that we didn’t lose everything but without protection for this heritage it will be looted.

Cinemas for Mosul: A call to the international community

We once enjoyed the cinemas in Mosul where we had 11 cinemas around the city that played a major role in enriching the cultural life of Mosul. Now, in 2019 no single cinema is left.

The cinemas we had: Hammurabi, Granada, Seville, Babylon, Hadba, the National theater, Al Sadun, Andalus, King Ghazi, King Faisal, and al Watan. All Cinemas stopped after 2003. Now is the time to reopen them. 
Some of the films projected in Mosul in the past: Gone with the wind, Zorba Le Grec, the Ugly American, Mother India, War and Peace, Miracle a Milan, the Bicycle thief, to Sir, with Love. And other Arab and western films. 
We deserve a cinema in Mosul, don’t we?

This is a call to the international community to help us restore our cultural life. Mosul should live a normal life as fighting terrorism is not just a military action but it requires deep understanding of the cultural roots of terrorism to tackle it down.

The revival of Mosul’s heritage will reveal keys to humanity’s resistance against violence and division. It will reveal that the only way to live together is by believing in diversity as a mosaic, where each distinct piece is integral to the revelation of the whole, where any missing piece will in the end rob all of their shared destiny. The protection andpromotion of this heritage in the contemporary culture will create safe spaces of communication between diverse groups of people. When you feel your identity is protected, you will act in a responsible way before the entire community. 

And, these are the things I want to see in Mosul: Cinemas, Theaters, Music Schools, Museums, Ballet schools and finally an Opera House. I dedicated my life to achieve these goals, if I couldn’t achieve them in my life, someone will continue. Oneday they will come true. #Mosul2019


Mosul to Chambord: #ReviveThespiritOfMosul

I had the privilege of representing my city Mosul on June 26 at the UNESCO conference “From Mosul To Chambord” within the UNESCO’s Flagship Initiative “Revive the Spirit of Mosul”. I addressed the need for cultural recovery for Mosul especially its youth. 

As the revival of Mosul’s heritage will reveal keys to humanity’s resistance against violence and division. It will reveal that the only way to live together is by believing in diversity as a mosaic, where each distinct piece is integral to the revelation of the whole, where any missing piece will in the end rob all of their shared destiny. The protection and promotion of this heritage in the contemporary culture will create safe spaces of communication between diverse groups of people. When you feel your identity is protected, you will act in a responsible way before the entire community.

My battle since June 2014 has been to reverse what ISIS has tried to implant in the consciousness of Mosul’s residents with the only weapon I have as a historian––writing history. The social, cultural and historical destruction wrought by the group will impact the city for centuries to come. Documenting history in such a context is a battle for knowledge: to develop the critical thinking capacity of the individual as a resistance to tyranny and to protect knowledge for the future. Now that ISIS has gone, I hope a more inclusive history of the city can be documented, one that’s been missing for many decades.

Despite all the destruction, human and tangible, there are many green shoots, signs of hope among the youth, who, in many cases are for the first time exploring the history of their city and its surroundings, places they never knew of or even thought to visit before! They need concrete support to grow this yearning into tangible actions that progress their lives and safeguard a better future. This makes UNESCO’s Revive the Spirit of Mosul initiative especially unique in its possibility to rise to the challenge and build cooperation directlywith the community in all its diversity, especially its young people.  

Mosul always survives. As the medieval geographer in the 11thcentury: “The city is a large and ancient one, fortified and imposing, and prepared against the strokes of adversity.” This I can only attest to again and again, the resilience of my city. 

Mosul Eye Report: Mosul Ferry Tragedy

As holiday turns into tragedy, a call for urgent review of local and international reconstruction efforts in Mosul

March 21 marks the combined holidays of Nowruz and Mother’s Day in Iraq, celebrations of spring, renewal and life. Families go on picnics and nature outings. A special favorite of people from Mosul and the surrounding area is a visit to Mosul Tourist Island, with its nature park and attractions for children.

Instead, corruption, negligence, incompetence and complicity turned what should have been a joyous day into an unimaginable tragedy for many families, the city and country. Unfortunately, it’s likely an ominous sign of more disasters to come if immediate actions to ensure public safety are not taken.

In the afternoon of Thursday March 21, a cable ferry with a capacity of fifty and apparently made from a portion of an out-of-service military floating bridge was packed with 287 people, mostly children and their mothers intending to cross the Tigris River to the small island. The U.S. military gave equipment to the Iraqi security forces like floating bridges, which are usually fastened in a chain. On this day, the ferry was supposed to have been guided by cables on each side for what should have been a quick three-minute trip across the river.

The scenes that follow, however, are horrifying. Bystander videos show one of the cables break just after the ferry takes off, causing water to flood into one side. Because the base of the ferry appears to be part of something like these military floating bridges intended to be connected to other units rather than floating alone, it quickly rocks back and forth and then overturns completely. Those aboard are violently thrown from side to side and then directly into the fast-moving water from the vessel, which was not equipped with life jackets, buoys or rafts.

The currents were especially heavy as the gates to the Mosul Dam had been opened just days before the incident, sending torrents of water downstream and causing a higher than normal water level. The Mosul Dam Administration had informed Tourist Island’s operator that opening the gates could cause parts of the island to be submerged, and that it should be closed during this period. Apparently, his instruction was not heeded.

Most of the women and children aboard the capsized ferry couldn’t swim. Images painful to watch show them bouncing up and down as they tried to keep their heads above the water. The River Police that patrol the Tigris River do not usually travel with emergency evacuation and recovery equipment. The Fire Department arrived on the scene with limited ability to help, as their officers are not trained in water search and rescue operations, also couldn’t swim, and were without life vests or rafts. Further, the Iraqi military helicopter that was sent could not deploy its people on a rescue mission, as its propulsion further stirred the currents and only moved the drowning bodies, especially the small children, faster downstream. Instead, local fishermen who had boats on the river and knew the area’s intricacies, acted fast and rescued many people who were brought to nearby hospitals with various injuries. Around fifty persons were rescued this way. When they arrived, children were covered with blankets rather than being treated immediately, resulting in more deaths. The progressive deterioration of Iraq’s health system has been well documented, and hospitals are chronically short of supplies, medication, equipment, and qualified medical staff, especially in paediatric care. At least 100 people are confirmed dead, with many more missing and likely never to be found.

Mosul Tourist Island under reconstruction, January 2018

Mosul Tourist Island was opened after 2003 by private developers and is especially busy on holidays and weekends for its children’s amusement park, cafes and outdoor restaurants. It is the only recreational area in the city of its kind. Tourist Island remained operational under ISIS’ occupation of the city, and its owner paid substantial taxes to the group’s financial authorities. It suffered damage during the fighting, but was reopened in mid-2018 after reconstruction. Mosul’s Administration of Tourism has now informed the public that Tourist Island has never actually operated with a license. Apparently, there have been no inspections of its equipment––especially frightening as Tourist Island also operates a ferris wheel beloved by children––and no safety training for its staff. Local Kurdish police are reported to have arrested the island’s operator allegedly trying to flee Mosul for the nearby northern city of Duhok, and additional arrests in the incident have also been reported.

The tragedy has galvanized and enraged the public for its emotive scenes of drowning children and their mothers. Mosul residents converged in protests at the site of the deadly incident on Friday demanding answers, an investigation, and denouncing Iraq’s endemic corruption. In recent days, eight reconstructed bridges connecting the banks of the Tigris River and other locations collapsed in the city! Rebuilt roads have also buckled and sunk under the seasonal rains. Iraq’s president, prime minister and parliamentary spokesman made emergency visits to Mosul on Friday, with Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi briefly meeting with victims in the hospital. When the governor of Nineveh Nofal Al-Akoub––widely viewed as corrupt and using reconstruction projects for personal benefit––arrived at the scene of the protests, his luxury car was pelted. The Range Rover even appeared to intentionally hit a young journalist, Laith Al Rashidi, whose injuries were so severe he was evacuated to the hospital, and another bystander. The governor has since been removed from his post, although that was rumoured well before this incident. The government convoy caused further traffic chaos and danger in the city, as there was only one functioning bridge across the river after the others fell!

Sadly, a member of Mosul Eye’s team was also caught up in the disaster. Aya’s mother, sister and baby brother were all killed, while she and her sister suffered injuries and were rescued. Aya’s unbearable loss is shared by all of us as she tries to recover her life and look to the future. There must be more to offer Mosul’s young generation than this!

The UNDP, European Commission, USAID and other international donors are funding many Mosul reconstruction projects, but questions must be raised as to how these funds are being allocated to the government and implemented on-site. What are the international donors’ mechanisms of project oversight in Mosul, and how can taxpayers in faraway capitals ensure their funds are being used to actually support reconstruction and development in Iraq, rather than more corruption and projects that endanger the public?

In response to the March 21 ferry disaster, Mosul Eye calls for the following:

1.    An independent and transparent investigation of the March 21, 2019 ferry tragedy and the bringing of all guilty persons and their accomplices to justice

2.    Immediate safety inspections based on standards of internationally recognized accreditation bodies in construction of all reconstruction projects in the city (roads, bridges, water, sanitation, energy/electricity, schools and hospitals) as well as newly established private sector public-use establishments (shopping malls, recreational centers, etc.)

3.    A public explanation of the government’s business licensing practices, especially those for recreational establishments like Tourist Island, as well as public health and safety inspection procedures

4.    For international donors: A public release of your sponsorship of reconstruction and development projects in the city and an inquiry whether international donor funds were used to support Mosul Tourist Island’s reconstruction and, if so, how this project was implemented locally

5.   For UN agencies and iNGOs working in the city: To review and make public your procedures for safeguarding reconstruction and development funds from supporting corruption, protection rackets, extortion and armed groups, and an explanation of how your organizations implement projects in the city

6.   To know which government authority is responsible for training and equipping civil protection units in search and rescue operations on land and water and why this has apparently not been achieved in Mosul/Nineveh

7.  As the cable ferry appears likely to have actually been made from a portioned off out-of-use “military floating bridge”, a public accounting of how military-grade equipment reaches the private sector. Who in the Iraqi military has the authority to sell such equipment to the private entities and what laws regulate this?

8.   Support to the March 21 ferry tragedy victims and their families of all medical-related costs, including long-term physical therapy and trauma counselling as needed

The 287 innocent people who boarded that ferry, many of them small children and mothers seeking only to celebrate a holiday together outdoors, the injured and the dead, and their grieving families deserve accountability and transparency. So to do the city’s residents and all Iraqis. Actions, not words, are urgently required to ensure public safety during this critical reconstruction period.

Goethe in Mosul: Ein neues Ost-West-Verständnis

Goethe in Mosul: Ein neues Ost-West-Verständnis


Schon seit Beginn der Menschheit wunderten die Menschen sich über sich und die Welt um sie herum. Sie konnten unmöglich erkennen, was in ihrem frühen Leben Osten (rechts) und was Westen (links) ist. Dann fanden sie es und begannen, dem Leben um sie herum Anweisungen zu geben. Einige von ihnen gingen nach Osten und andere nach Westen. Andere beschlossen, in der Mitte zu bleiben. Und von da an begannen die Anweisungen, unsere Beziehung zu definieren. Jahrhunderte vergingen und die Menschheit trug dazu bei, Definitionen der Richtungen der Welt festzulegen. Und hier war die Welt im Westen und Osten (mit all ihren unterschiedlichen Auffassungen und historische, soziale, wirtschaftliche und politische Ebenen, die den vermeintlichen zwei Richtungen hinzugefügt wurden).

Nur wenige Menschen entschieden sich für ein anderes Verständnis von Ost und West. Wahrscheinlich war einer von ihnen Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, der das Bedürfnis hatte, zu humanisieren, was Menschen entmenschlicht hatten. Das konnte er in seiner “westlichen” Umgebung nicht finden und fand er in Hafiz, dessen Worte ihn dazu inspirierten, ein erstaunliches Werk zu schreiben, das den deutschen Leser “orientalisierte”, und das war “West–östlicher Divan”.

Goethe verstand die Bedeutung des “Austauschs” und der Kommunikation zwischen den Kulturen. Ein Thema, das die Menschheit geschaffen hat, aber oft vergessen wurde. Aus diesem Grund fand die erste Begegnung zwischen Weidenholzer Josef und mir statt. Das erste Mal, als ich ihn getroffen hatte, habe auch die Worte von Hafiz gefühlt. Er erklärte sein Verständnis von den Ereignissen in Mosul. Ein Mann, der die Konsequenzen des Zweiten Weltkriegs erlebt hat, hat ein besonderes Verständnis dafür, wie wichtig es ist, die Gefühle in Goethes Gedichten und Worten wiederzubeleben. Heute war ich wieder in seinem Büro, um über unsere zukünftige Arbeit zu diskutieren, um Mosuls Jugendlichen zu helfen, ihr Leben und ihre Zukunft wiederzugewinnen.



Video: The oldest church in Mosul

This church is dedicated to Saint Thomas the Apostle and is believed to have been constructed on the site of the house that the saint resided in during his stay in Mosul. The church is first mentioned in 770 as part of a grievance to Caliph Al-Mahdi. The current structure suggests it was built in the 13th century. During restoration work in 1964, the finger bones of Saint Thomas were discovered in the church. On 23 December 2009, a bomb damaged the church, killing two men and injuring five people.

After the Fall of Mosul, the relics of Saint Thomas were taken from the church by Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Mosul Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf and transferred to the Monastery of Saint Matthew on June 17, 2014. The church was used as a prison by Islamic State insurgents until the city’s liberation in 2017.

The church is believed to be the only one in Mosul to have a verse from the Quran (15:99): “And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty (death).”

We had a tour of the church and found it is very bad condition, as many historical sites around it. Rebuilding churches, mosques and synagogues can aid efforts to stabilize the city and bring back its diversity.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: