Voices from 'the Caliphate': Mosul

Voices from 'the Caliphate': Mosul
4 min read
05 Nov, 2014
The ousting of Iraqi security forces from Mosul had been coming for a long time. But then the militants of the Islamic State group hijacked the uprising.
Illustration: Claudia Mateus
Editor’s note: Voices from the Caliphate are a series of perspectives collected from three Islamic State group strongholds in Syria and Iraq: Raqqa, Deir al-Zour and Mosul. All identities have been withheld or changed.

I write from a field of pain. This pain has many causes. It has many sources. It is a pain created by the malice of political forces that have gone astray in their vision
of the past, the present and the future they proclaim. 

     People look at strangers with suspicion. They sleep worried. They wake up worried.
On June 9, the people of Mosul woke up to a new reality. The militants of the Iraqi uprising had routed four divisions of the Iraqi army and police led by officers of the highest ranks, none with any influence in the city. The militants put up concrete barriers between neighbourhoods and ordered local authorities to clean the streets, which had turned into rubbish dumps, because garbage trucks had been allowed into the city’s districts only once a month.

It was an uprising long in the making. Regressive political forces had taken over the Iraqi state. The US occupation had released a sectarian beast. Some officials worked on incorporating militias, professional only in killing in the name of religion, into the army. Their relatives were placed in high positions even when they couldn’t write their own names.

Voices from the Caliphate – Raqqa

This authority turned Mosul into a semi-prison with just one entrance. Social relations were severed and harassment by the army and police became commonplace. There were random arrests and random kidnappings. Ransoms were demanded and paid. Traders, pharmacists, doctors, truck drivers, university professors, contractors, even local officials fell victims to protection rackets.


The uprising was long in the making. But then the militants of the Islamic State group hijacked it when they raised their black flags on the institutions of the Iraqi state. At first, the people of Mosul were relieved to see the back of the Iraqi army. People were relieved when IS propaganda assured the population that citizens would be respected, that the IS would not impose any particular way of thinking.


Then they showed their fangs. They began by destroying the city’s beautiful landmarks. Down came the statues of Abu Tammam, the poet, and Mulla Othman, the artist. IS militants smashed the dome of the mausoleum of Ibn al-Athir, the historian. Then they moved to Mosul’s historic mosques, that of the Prophets Yunis (Jonah), Jirjis, Sheeth (Seth) and Daniel as well as the Sheikh al-Shatt, Muhammad Qassim, Abu al-Ala and al-Imam al-Bahir mosques. 

Thousands have fled Mosul for uncertain fates [AFP]


The Nineveh school system was abolished and our Christian brothers became targets. They were faced with three options. Pay the jizya tax, convert to Islam or face death. Next were the Yazidis, who were forced to flee. Then our Shia brothers, many of whom had never previously wondered whether they were Shia or Sunni. 

READ ALSO: Voices from the Caliphate – Deir al-Zour

The property of those who fled are now a source of funds for IS. Revenue also comes from petrol trading, fruit and vegetables brought in from Syria - and from taxes. Local traders say that before they can even bring their goods to market, 30 percent of the price is taken in taxation, apparently for zakat
, to be redistributed among poor Muslims.


People look at strangers with suspicion. They sleep worried. They wake up worried. Their new masters have made new laws. The only official institution that still works is the Sharia court. They settle disputes and uphold the new laws. These have banned smoking. Those who smoke risk a flogging. Those who sell cigarettes risk a flogging. Women, even young girls, must wear the veil. Those who don’t risk a flogging.


No birth is recorded. No death is recorded. This is becoming a city without history. The Prophet Muhammad is love and mercy. The Islamic State group knows neither.


I write from a field of pain.


All views expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.