BAGHDAD: In the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, surrounded by buildings that were reduced to rubble years ago, the ruins of the Al-Nuri Mosque are starting to come to life again. The iconic structure — and many like it in Mosul’s famed Old City — was damaged by Daesh during the battle that raged here in December 2017.
The “Revive the Spirit of Mosul” project, a UNESCO-led project to rebuild the city’s damaged heritage sites, is bringing hope to Iraqis and foreigners alike that the city’s rich past will once again have the chance to shine.
Famous for its leaning minaret which gave it its nickname of “the hunchback” or “Al-Hadba” in Arabic, Al-Nuri was constructed in the 12th century. In July 2014, Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi stood at the mosque’s pulpit and declared Iraq and Syria as the terrorist group’s “caliphate.”
Three years later, Daesh destroyed the mosque’s beloved minaret, an act that Iraq’s prime minister at the time called “an official acknowledgement of defeat.”
Daesh used the explosion of the structure as propaganda, blaming its destruction on a US-led global coalition airstrike. “Jihadist supporters are using it to blame the West and Americans,” Alberto Fernandez, then-vice president of the Middle East Media Research Institute, told the USA Today newspaper in 2017.