Written by: Mandy Stefanakis
“Mosul, Iraq. It’s not a particularly large place, but everyone knows its name.”
People are so passionate about music that they’re willing to take risks in order to make a statement about it. Ameen Mukdad, used to play his music at home until his instruments were taken.
He returned to Mosul from Bagdhad this month, ISIS seemingly vanquished from this particular area of the city, though gunfire and bombs from the west accompanied his performance attended by about twenty brave people. He performed at an archaeological site that is precious for both Muslims and Christians, but had been partially destroyed during the war.
Mukdad had previously escaped to Bagdad with his family when ISIS had first entered the city, hiding his instruments in the basement of their house, but when he returned to Mosul to collect his instruments he was not allowed to leave. He played music secretly. You can hear him play briefly in the link below. Don’t be too disconcerted by the bizarre juxtaposition of an ad for Disneyland preceding it.
There is a haunting film called ‘Blue’ by another musician in Yarmouk during the war in Syria, featuring musician Ayham al-Humad. It shows how music brings people together, fortifies them in the face of war. Al-Humad left Syria when his piano was burnt and a young girl who used to come and sing with him was killed. He and his family now live in Germany.
Laura Hassler, the Director and Founder of Musicians without Borders talks about a journey to El Salvador in a project with UNICEF. She speaks of the ‘dislocation, poverty, decades of unprocessed trauma’, the lack of economic or social perspective in a country persevering despite war and the gang violence that has followed. She meets Pablo who is starting up an orchestra for children and a range of others working across the arts to provide children and adults with immersive arts experiences or as Hassler describes it, an oasis of hope.
The arts can be powerful healers and markers of resistance to violence and oppression.
VIEW AND LISTEN
Ameen Mukdad http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39651261
Ayham al-Hamad reflects http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=54942#.WQK5slOGNp8
Musicians Without Borders https://www.musicianswithoutborders.org/?gclid=CPCm5dSgxtMCFcMrvQodl4YJIw