Violinist plays free concert to counter ISIS

Iraqi violinist Ameen Mukdad risked his safety to give a gift of beauty and hope to the citizens of Mosul, while fighting still raged nearby.

When ISIS invaded Mosul in 2014, they imposed their own interpretation of Islam—one which said music was forbidden.  

The ISIS fighters stopped Mukdad from playing and seized his violin. He fled his home, fearing they would want to take his life next.

But the terrorist group could not take the music out of his heart, not quell his desire to be the beauty of music to his fellow Iraqis.

After three years in exile, with ISIS slowly being driven from the city, Mukdad returned to make music in his home again.

He deiced that he needed to play a concert for the few brave souls who still remained in his battered hometown.

He planned a free concert at the Tomb of Jonas, also called Nabi Younis, a site revered by Christian and Muslim alike. He picked the site to show the unity of all decent human beings.

He advertised on social media—a huge risk, but really the only way to reach the other residents.

“I want to take the opportunity to send a message to the world  and a strike against terrorism and all ideologies, which restrict freedom that music is a beautiful thing,” Mukdad said.

“Everyone who opposes music is ugly.”

Only 20 people turned up—and perhaps even that number is surprising, considering that Mosul is a battlefield, and extremists might target the show.

Mukdad was not intimidated. He played, though the notes were interspersed with the sound of gunfire and mortars.

Every note he played expressed his desire for freedom and peace.

That message resonated with his audience.

“I hear that he is going to play music at Nabi Younis Mosque and I want to come because this event represents Mosul,” said one attendee, Tahany Saleh. “This is Mosul with all its beauty.

“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 to music.”

Mukdad played for an hour. Even nearby soldiers stopped by to listen to his songs and joined the rest of the crowd in its applause.

Those brave souls got to share an hour of beauty—and of hope.

 
 
 
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