Iraqi students return to University of Mosul freed from ISIL

World Today

Iraqi civilians flee through a destroyed alley as Iraqi Special Forces continue their advance against Islamic State militants in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, Sunday, July 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

With ISIL nearly flushed-out of what was Iraq’s second-largest city, residents are trying to rebuild and seek some normalcy.

The University of Mosul was one of the region’s finest universities, before ISIL used it as a military barracks. Now free of the group’s control, students have returned.

CGTN’s Toby Muse reports.

Since the University of Mosul was reopened following its capture by Iraqi forces from ISIL, some students have returned to studying. Others, however, are still rebuilding their faculties so they too can study again. Every day, students pitch in with whatever is needed.

“We are cleaning our university because we want to study here and the university is important for Mosul,” said Ali Abdullah Mehid, a student.

Like the rest of Mosul, the university has emerged from three years of ISIL rule. At the university you can see Iraqis’ determination to move forward but also just how big a task that will be.

The University of Mosul was one of the most prestigious in the Middle East–before ISIL took over the city in 2014. Classes were suspended and the educational center turned in to a military base. Perhaps what has suffered the most was Mosul’s famous library-an academic jewel envied across the region.

As Iraqi forces advanced on the library, ISIL torched it, burning hundreds of thousands of books. Now, all that remains are fragments of what once was.

Each and every student has their own terrible tale of life under ISIL. Normal teenage pastimes like listening to music or playing pool were forbidden. Awes Ibrahim had to listen to his favorite singer Adele in secret, risking punishment to do so.

“I missed the freedom, to chat with friends, I missed studying, I missed listening to music, I missed being a human being,” said Ibrahim.

The university is much like Mosul itself: students clean and rebuild, while in the background, plumes of smoke told of airstrikes aiming at eliminating ISIL in their last holdout.

Parts of the university are in ruins. Everyone knows that it will take years to restore the learning center to its former glory. But students and professors see their work as a message of defiance of ISIL.

Troops patrol the university, alert for any ISIL terror attack. In the meantime, the students were helping bring their beloved university back to life. It’s the ultimate victory over ISIL.