In two Iraqi cities this year, Valentine's Day commemorations could not have been more different. The first report below comes from ISIS-controlled Mosul. The second comes from Iraq's capital, Baghdad.
Mosul (via Iraqi News):
The so-called [ISIS] al-Sharia Court in Mosul issued a fatwa to execute anyone who celebrates Valentine’s Day in the city because of the prohibition of these occasions.
A media official with the Kurdistan Democratic Party added that ISIS also tried "to prevent wearing red clothes or any expression of this occasion in the areas controlled by them.”
Baghdad (via AI Monitor):
In such an atmosphere [of decades of war and violence], Valentine’s Day has become more than an occasion to celebrate and exchange gifts between couples. It has become a symbol of hope, evidence that life goes on, a way to show that love for the homeland and a way to protest against everything that calls for violence and hatred in the country.
These celebrations of kindness and hope were not limited to Baghdad, either. In Hilla, about 60 miles south, young people "distributed red roses in the streets and public squares to express their love for Iraq and to reject hate, violence and sectarianism."
In multiple cities, youth groups marked Valentine's Day by caring for orphaned children. They "took them to shopping malls to buy them what they needed, then took them to public parks to spend an entire day playing in an atmosphere of love.”
Two cities. Two very different Valentine's Days. One of them shows how ordinary Iraqis are remaking their world—and loving in the face of terror.
Photo: Valentine's Day in Baghdad by @AliAjeena