Amid the ruins of an ancient shrine in the city of Mosul in Iraqi, the violinist Ameen Mukdad played his composition “I am Free.” That composition was written while Mosul was under the stern rule of the Islamic State which banned music and musical instruments. Mukdad played in hiding, but eventually his music was discovered and all his musical possessions were seized. Even after that he still found ways to express his love for music, making an instrument out of wood and old guitar strings while hiding out in a relative’s house.
The day IS took control over Mosul Kukdad played publicly on a house rooftop. His next public performance was this one as most of Mosul has been liberated from ISIS, though some fighting continues. Mukdad said, “I want to take the opportunity to send a message to the world, and send a strike against terrorism and all ideologies which restrict freedom, that music is a beautiful thing. Everyone who opposes music is ugly.”
Mukdad picked the shrine as the place for his concert because it honors the Jewish and Christian prophet Jonah who is honored by Muslims as Younis in the Qur’an. “This is a place for all, not just one sect,” he said. “Daesh [the acronym for the Islamic State in Arabic] represents no religion but is an ideology that suppresses freedom. Everything about Daesh is wrong.”Though only 20 people witnessed Mukdad’s concert, it has been picked up by global media and gone viral over the internet.
Click here to see the BBC report and to listen to some of the music by Ameen Mukdad.