Together with his students he started to clean up the buildings that were still standing – without any support from the Iraqi government, which continues to treat anyone who stayed during the occupation with suspicion for having possibly collaborated with IS. At the same time, locals are still afraid of those IS members who went underground. "That's why you hardly see anything relating to the occupation in the arts now," Tariq said.

A mural of books in Mosul (photo: DW/E v. Wessel)
Rescued from a torching by IS: after the fire in the library, Ali al-Baroodi, an English lecturer at the University of Mosul, together with students and other volunteers, recovered some 6,000 books from the ashes. Historian Omar Mohammed, internationally known as the blogger "Mosul Eye", launched an appeal, whereupon thousands of books were sent from abroad to replace the lost ones

And the arts do not seem to be playing a role in helping people come to terms with what happened to them under IS, in contrast to the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where, for instance, a Yazidi artist has created paintings about the fate of his people.

Artists in Mosul found other ways to celebrate their renewed freedom. In May 2017, when the battle was still raging across the river Tigris, which divides the city in two, both al-Baroodi and Tariq were involved in staging an art exhibition in eastern Mosul. There, pictures and paintings were exhibited against the blackened remains of a university building to the sounds of long-banned music.

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