School bells finally rang at Shimon Safa Elementary School this fall, Mosul’s oldest Christian school that had been closed for four years.
The school, also called the Shimon Safa Institute, is located next to the 9th century Shimon Safa Church and the monastery, which is known as the Shimon Safa priestly institute.
The elementary school used to be one of 20 Christian schools in the multifaith city until the 1980s. Most of these schools were closed gradually in the three turbulent decades that followed the 1990 Gulf War, particularly in 2014-17 when the city was constrolled by the Islamic State (IS).
The return of the 400 students, between the ages of 6 and 12, to the classrooms of Shimon Safa Institute on Sept. 30 illustrates that the city is recovering, after IS displaced the city’s Christians during the 2014 invasion, banned non-Islamic rituals, destroyed churches and imposed its extremist beliefs.