| Maya Alleruzzo |
CAIRO (AP) – Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, is locked under the rule of extremists from the Islamic State group trying to purge it of everything they see as contradicting their stark vision of Islam.
A trove of photographs now housed at the Library of Congress offers a glimpse of a different Mosul – before wars, insurgency, sectarian strife and now radicals’ rule. The scenes were taken in the autumn of 1932 by staff from the American Colony Photo Department during a visit to Iraq at the end of the British mandate.
The photos show many of the sites that have now borne the brunt of the Islamic State group’s wrath. Since capturing the city in June, the militants destroyed at least 30 shrines and historic sites they see as promoting idolatry and heresy.
Among the sites were the tombs of figures revered as prophets by Muslims. One site the extremists couldn’t destroy was the 840-year-old Crooked Minaret, a minaret that leans like Italy’s Tower of Pisa. When the militants came to blow it up, residents formed a human chain around it to protect it.
In one of the old images, the Crooked Minaret towers over a street in central Mosul, adjacent to a Yazidi shrine. The shrine was gone long before militants overtook the city, but it reveals a time when different religious faiths could coexist here. Yazidis belong to an ancient sect that the radicals consider heretical, and Islamic State group fighters have driven tens of thousands of Yazidis from their homes when they seized their towns last month.
ABOVE: A 1932 image of Lady Surrma of the Assyrian community posing for a portrait in Mosul, northern Iraq, left, and an Iraqi woman looking at a shop display in central Mosul after the Islamic State group ordered clothes shop owners to cover the faces of the mannequins on Monday, July 21, 2014
A 1932 image of men on a lorry on the road to Mosul, northern Iraq, top, and fighters from the Islamic State group parading in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armoured vehicle down a main road in Mosul on Monday, June 23, 2014
A 1932 image of Iraqi vendors and customers in the shoe market in Mosul, and a Monday, July 7, 2014 file photo of a man walking in a market, nearly a month after Islamic militants took over the country’s second largest city
As the United States and the international community are grappling with how to battle the militants, who now control territory stretching from northern Syria to the outskirts of Baghdad, here is a look at scenes from Mosul in more peaceful times and today under the rule of the Islamic State group.