Mosul Locals Taste New Freedoms for Post-Extremist Ramadan
Ramadan in Mosul is different this year: Rather than hiding the fact they are not fasting during the religious month, locals are eating in public and restaurants are open. It is all thanks to the Islamic State group.
This year in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, Ramadan is different. During the Islamic holy month, the religious usually abstain from eating, drinking and other activities like sex, during the day so that they may contemplate the spiritual instead; then, once night falls, they break their daily fast with friends, family and neighbours.
But after being under the control of the extremist group known as the Islamic State for over two years, the people of Mosul are feeling the freedom to celebrate Ramadan a little differently.
Where once, anyone who didn’t fast had to eat in private, away from fasting eyes, now more individuals are going public with their snacking. And cafes that once covered their windows with curtains – that is, if they were even open during the day at Ramadan – are now opening their doors to all and sundry.
Even before the Islamic State, or IS, group took over the city in June 2014, Mosul was a relatively conservative place. When former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was in charge of the country, police would penalize anyone caught eating during the fasting hours. Sometimes this involved prison, other times it was just a fine.
After 2003, some parts of Mosul were under control of another extremist group, Al Qaeda in Iraq, who based their ideology on Sunni Islam practices. Al Qaeda in Iraq were followed by their offshoot, the IS group, who took control of the whole city. While the extremists were in charge, eating during the fast was extremely dangerous and could even result in execution.