“Mosul will rise again”, Alexandre Mitchell, 2022
(Canson, 180g, 42 x 59cm, Indian ink)

I wrote two novels based in Iraq (The 13th Tablet, 2012 and The Snake of Babylon, 2021). I was horrified by Iraq’s human and cultural loss in 2004, but when ISIS and its black flags entered the city in 2014, I truly felt we had reached the end of the line, between ignorance and darkness.

Yet, even those brutish jihadists could not annihilate such a land, for it is the true cradle of civilisation and, among all its gifts, it brought forth the written word.

Al-Nuri mosque and so many other celebrated buildings were bombed by enraged thugs, but in time they will be rebuilt. Iraq’s people are a melting pot of ethnic groups and religions but they live in land of Gilgamesh, the first hero.

I dream of Gilgamesh’s friend, Enkidu the uncivilised, whose statue was found close to Mosul. Rise, Enkidu the wild one, from the bosom of the earth, and cleanse the land from the hateful, from those who are cruel to the bone.

Iraq will rise once more from the ashes of ISIS, and Mosul will be beautiful again.

As they said in Ur, almost 4000 years ago:

“A loving heart builds a house. A hating heart destroys a house” (Clay tablet written in Old Babylonian, 1900-1600 BC, British Museum, obverse, 6-7).