Baghdad
Tahrir
Art

Murals

"A painting that embodies the revolution
Painted in two colors
The white and the black
stood on it, a colored Butterfly"

„… Some years ago, I wrote a poem about those who die for freedom and justice. I never thought that I was writing it prematurely for my friend…“

Martyrs do not go to paradise

They leaf through the heavinly book

each in their own way

as a bird

a star

or a cloud

They appear to us every day

and cry

for us

we, who are still

in this hell they tried to extinguish

with their blood

“I will visit your grave when I go to Iraq, but I know that you are not only there. Your face is on so many walls, banners, T-shirts, and your spirit is everywhere. Your brothers and sisters, Thanwa‘s children, are still fighting for the new Iraq you dreamed of and loved.“

S.A.

Dec. 16, 2019

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/16/opinion/iraq-protests.html?smid=tw=share

On October 25, 2019, demonstrators decided to have a sit-in in Al Tahrir. A few days later they started to write slogans on the walls in the tunnel, which express their demands and messages to the government. Even though the government reacted with violence against protestors, they insisted on a peaceful demonstration.

“Our revolution will remain peaceful, what about you?”

On October 25, 2019, demonstrators decided to have a sit-in in Al Tahrir. A few days later they started to write slogans on the walls in the tunnel, which express their demands and messages to the government. Even though the government reacted with violence against protestors, they insisted on a peaceful demonstration. “Our revolution will remain peaceful, what about you?”

One clear message from the protestors was the demand for a homeland. 

The message says: “I want a homeland.”

One clear message from the protestors was the demand for a homeland. The message says: “I want a homeland.”

Iraqi people appreciate poems. A lot of Iraqi poets were always recited either on the walls or live on the square. 

“The singer says.. Peace be upon the land of oil, drought, dates and palm trees, the night, the antique vigor, peace be upon the liberated one and the slaves.”

Poem by Abdulkareem Radhi Jaafer

Iraqi people appreciate poems. A lot of Iraqi poets were always recited either on the walls or live on the square. “The singer says.. Peace be upon the land of oil, drought, dates and palm trees, the night, the antique vigor, peace be upon the liberated one and the slaves.” Poem by Abdulkareem Radhi Jaafer

“The one whom I said will rise, has arisen.
Great, mighty generation effective, intense
You see them on the bridges, horizon, resisting.
From the mountain of immovability, they issued messages.
We Iraqis do not bow for you.
We say more, if the flood has increased.”

Ihsan Al-Muntheri – Safa Haitham

“The one whom I said will rise, has arisen. Great, mighty generation effective, intense You see them on the bridges, horizon, resisting. From the mountain of immovability, they issued messages. We Iraqis do not bow for you. We say more, if the flood has increased.” Ihsan Al-Muntheri – Safa Haitham

“The little drops make a stream”
Victor Hugo

“The little drops make a stream” Victor Hugo

The message to the left is talking about the demand for “Freedom of opinion”.

The message to the right relates to news reports. Specific tv-channels and newspapers did not report about what really happened in Al Tahrir Square.

The message to the left is talking about the demand for “Freedom of opinion”. The message to the right relates to news reports. Specific tv-channels and newspapers did not report about what really happened in Al Tahrir Square.

The calligraphy in green beside the Iraqi flag says: “Labbaik, oh Iraq”

The meaning of ‘Labbaik’ here is “I am at your service”.

The Iraqi flag is often used in the protest movement as a symbol of the Iraqi people’s identity.

“My homeland Iraq, I am at your service.”

The calligraphy in green beside the Iraqi flag says: “Labbaik, oh Iraq” The meaning of ‘Labbaik’ here is “I am at your service”. The Iraqi flag is often used in the protest movement as a symbol of the Iraqi people’s identity. “My homeland Iraq, I am at your service.”

This cartoon reflects the existing class differences in Iraq. According to the World Food Program (WFP), Iraq has a poverty rate of 31,7% in 2020 and ranks 123 of 189 countries in the 2020 Human Development Index.

The poor dad says:
“We are hungry.”

The Sheikh answers:
“I will feed you with religion.”

This cartoon reflects the existing class differences in Iraq. According to the World Food Program (WFP), Iraq has a poverty rate of 31,7% in 2020 and ranks 123 of 189 countries in the 2020 Human Development Index. The poor dad says: “We are hungry.” The Sheikh answers: “I will feed you with religion.”

The writing above says: “Hail and peace, oh my country.”

The painting refers to the fact: “To be born as an Iraqi woman is a battle.” (quote of an activist in Al Tahrir)

The writing above says: “Hail and peace, oh my country.” The painting refers to the fact: “To be born as an Iraqi woman is a battle.” (quote of an activist in Al Tahrir)

“The voice of a  woman is a shame. But it became a revolution.”

One essential part of the movement was that women were an integral and equitable part. Women were helping in the first aid teams, in logistic teams e.g. cleaning, cooking, organizing everything necessary.

“The voice of a woman is a shame. But it became a revolution.” One essential part of the movement was that women were an integral and equitable part. Women were helping in the first aid teams, in logistic teams e.g. cleaning, cooking, organizing everything necessary.

To the left it is written: “No, no America.”

The slogan refers to the anger of Iraqi people about the influence the U.S. wield in Iraq since 2003.

To the left it is written: “No, no America.” The slogan refers to the anger of Iraqi people about the influence the U.S. wield in Iraq since 2003.

The painting is based on a song from the Lebanese singer Fayrouz with some adaptations to honour the noble deeds of Tuk Tuk drivers, who helped in transporting goods to protestors as well as moving those who were injured or in need of aid:
“Tuk Tuk, oh Sulaiman’s mother
Our Tuk Tuk among the fire
Our Tuk Tuk has ardor more than America and all Iran.”

The painting is based on a song from the Lebanese singer Fayrouz with some adaptations to honour the noble deeds of Tuk Tuk drivers, who helped in transporting goods to protestors as well as moving those who were injured or in need of aid: “Tuk Tuk, oh Sulaiman’s mother Our Tuk Tuk among the fire Our Tuk Tuk has ardor more than America and all Iran.”

These three paintings express the wish of the Iraqi people for a homeland. 

The painting in the centre asks: “We want a homeland.

These three paintings express the wish of the Iraqi people for a homeland. The painting in the centre asks: “We want a homeland." The red calligraphy to the right says: "My homeland." The text under the calligraphy says: "Tomorrow, my homeland will return and our sleeping laughter will awaken. Crops of blood will grow in dream, hope and health."

“LONG LIVE IRAQ!”

“LONG LIVE IRAQ!”

The Tuk Tuk drivers of Baghdad became heroes during the protest movement. 
Since the first week in October 2019 they took over important logistic tasks: 
They brought injured or murdered persons to the first aid team.
They transported food and goods from one point to the other.
They transported protestors to the frontline or visitors through the tunnel.
They made important announcements about what to do next.
They played loud music to entertain the people.

The wall painting is an adaptation of a cartoon that went viral on social media at the time.

The Tuk Tuk drivers of Baghdad became heroes during the protest movement. Since the first week in October 2019 they took over important logistic tasks: They brought injured or murdered persons to the first aid team. They transported food and goods from one point to the other. They transported protestors to the frontline or visitors through the tunnel. They made important announcements about what to do next. They played loud music to entertain the people. The wall painting is an adaptation of a cartoon that went viral on social media at the time.

Tuk Tuks are usually used as public transportation in specific neighbourhoods in Baghdad. It is an affordable way for Iraqis to move in the city. Tuk tuk drivers usually come from poor families and work for a tuk tuk owner.

During the protest movement, some tuk tuks got burned. If a driver looses a tuk tuk, he has to reimburse the new purchase price to the owner, which is 4 Million Iraqi dinars. To help the tuk tuk drivers a lady donated 100 tuk tuks in early November 2019. Later, this lady got kidnapped because of her initiative. Kidnapping means illegal arrest, and it is a method used by the system and pro-system entities to punish the people on the square.

Tuk Tuks are usually used as public transportation in specific neighbourhoods in Baghdad. It is an affordable way for Iraqis to move in the city. Tuk tuk drivers usually come from poor families and work for a tuk tuk owner. During the protest movement, some tuk tuks got burned. If a driver looses a tuk tuk, he has to reimburse the new purchase price to the owner, which is 4 Million Iraqi dinars. To help the tuk tuk drivers a lady donated 100 tuk tuks in early November 2019. Later, this lady got kidnapped because of her initiative. Kidnapping means illegal arrest, and it is a method used by the system and pro-system entities to punish the people on the square.

The painting relates to the reports of governmental Iraqi TV channels about the happenings in Al Tahrir.
Do not see.
Do not hear.
Do not talk.

The painting relates to the reports of governmental Iraqi TV channels about the happenings in Al Tahrir. Do not see. Do not hear. Do not talk.

The Turkish Restaurant became a symbol of the protest movement as the Tuk Tuks and the Iraqi flag. The Iraqi flag is here added with figures from Jawad Saleem’s “Freedom Monument” in Al Tahrir and the portrait of the poet and activist Safaa Al Sarray, murdered in Al Tahrir on October 28, 2019.

The Turkish Restaurant became a symbol of the protest movement as the Tuk Tuks and the Iraqi flag. The Iraqi flag is here added with figures from Jawad Saleem’s “Freedom Monument” in Al Tahrir and the portrait of the poet and activist Safaa Al Sarray, murdered in Al Tahrir on October 28, 2019.

“God does not let down a hand that has been lifted to him.”

“God does not let down a hand that has been lifted to him.”

The graffiti above mirrors the new Iraq. We will tear up the darkness from the horizon and build up a new Iraq: a Land of Peace.

The graffiti below says: “Live your dream.”

The graffiti above mirrors the new Iraq. We will tear up the darkness from the horizon and build up a new Iraq: a Land of Peace. The graffiti below says: “Live your dream.”

There are many motifs used which are inspired by Banksy, like the little girl with a balloon here. The  text next to the gril is a poem: 

“Heavenly justice. If it were not for Torah, Bible and Quran, justice would have no mention or place upon which prophets, Imams and trustees have never differed. And for it the scale of justice was placed with the cane of Moses and his brother Haroun… Corruption was defeated and safety was restored… and the cross of Jesus rang the bells of the earth, a promise to Man and jinn alike, concluded by Muhammad’s call to prayer, a wisdom to awaken humanity. It is justice… It is an abundant rain and a ray coming from the sky. Where are we from it now?”
Poet Ali Al Qaisi

There are many motifs used which are inspired by Banksy, like the little girl with a balloon here. The text next to the gril is a poem: “Heavenly justice. If it were not for Torah, Bible and Quran, justice would have no mention or place upon which prophets, Imams and trustees have never differed. And for it the scale of justice was placed with the cane of Moses and his brother Haroun… Corruption was defeated and safety was restored… and the cross of Jesus rang the bells of the earth, a promise to Man and jinn alike, concluded by Muhammad’s call to prayer, a wisdom to awaken humanity. It is justice… It is an abundant rain and a ray coming from the sky. Where are we from it now?” Poet Ali Al Qaisi

The graffiti in the centre means: “Life”

Above is written: “History will tell who fell short, and who spoke the higher word and stood in Al Tahrir and prayed. Who scattered their soul as a sacrifice and told their mother not to mourn them. Who said Labbaik, oh Hussain, our souls are ransomed in walking your path, and from you we inspire our revolution, our voices rise and linger. And who said the revolution is pointless… history will tell.”

The graffiti in the centre means: “Life” Above is written: “History will tell who fell short, and who spoke the higher word and stood in Al Tahrir and prayed. Who scattered their soul as a sacrifice and told their mother not to mourn them. Who said Labbaik, oh Hussain, our souls are ransomed in walking your path, and from you we inspire our revolution, our voices rise and linger. And who said the revolution is pointless… history will tell.”

A message to opponents: “We are an undefeatable nation.

A message to opponents: “We are an undefeatable nation."

The photo was taken on November 1, 2019 when people started to paint the walls in the tunnel. The message above says: “The government is asking for reconciliation and we refuse that.“

The lettering in the centre says: “Either death or victory.“

To the right someone is painting one of the admired figures from Jawad Saleem‘s Freedom Monument in Al Tahrir Square. 

All of them were later overpainted with paintings to be seen next.

The photo was taken on November 1, 2019 when people started to paint the walls in the tunnel. The message above says: “The government is asking for reconciliation and we refuse that.“ The lettering in the centre says: “Either death or victory.“ To the right someone is painting one of the admired figures from Jawad Saleem‘s Freedom Monument in Al Tahrir Square. All of them were later overpainted with paintings to be seen next.

The painting above is a portrait of the martyr Ghaloubi Al Tememi.

The graffiti below to the right sends the message: “You are a hero.”

The painting above is a portrait of the martyr Ghaloubi Al Tememi. The graffiti below to the right sends the message: “You are a hero.”

To the left is a portrait of the martyr Ali Ammar Al Shahmani. The calligraphy beside his portrait recites the Holy Quran: “Do not count those who were killed for the sake of Allah dead.”

To the left is a portrait of the martyr Ali Ammar Al Shahmani. The calligraphy beside his portrait recites the Holy Quran: “Do not count those who were killed for the sake of Allah dead.”

The painting is from the Spanish series “La Casa de Papel” (Money Heist). Instead of the ten robbers, the protagonists of the series, the names of the cities which participated in the protest movement with sit-ins at the respective cities’ squares are mentioned plus one: Baghdad (marked in red).

During the sit-in in Al Tahrir, people were watching the series. Later the song “Bella Ciao” was playing in Al Tahrir and was sung in different occasions.

Even though there were sit-ins in different cities in Iraq, Baghdad’s Al Tahrir Square was considered the hub of the protest movement. Many people from the other provinces joined the sit-in in Al Tahrir or visited Al Tahrir in the form of marches.

Cities with sit-ins:
Najaf: Al Ishreen Revolution Square, Dyala: (no square, only marches), Babylon: Al Tahrir Wllza Square, Maysan: Maysan Square, Kerbela: Al Ahrar Squre, Baghdad: Al Tahrir Square, Diwaniya: Al Sa’a Square, Muthana: Algadeer Arena and Al Ihtifalat Square, Dhiqar: Al Haboobi Square and Al Zaytoon Bridge, Wasit: Tamose Square, Basra: Abdulkareem Qassim Square

The painting is from the Spanish series “La Casa de Papel” (Money Heist). Instead of the ten robbers, the protagonists of the series, the names of the cities which participated in the protest movement with sit-ins at the respective cities’ squares are mentioned plus one: Baghdad (marked in red). During the sit-in in Al Tahrir, people were watching the series. Later the song “Bella Ciao” was playing in Al Tahrir and was sung in different occasions. Even though there were sit-ins in different cities in Iraq, Baghdad’s Al Tahrir Square was considered the hub of the protest movement. Many people from the other provinces joined the sit-in in Al Tahrir or visited Al Tahrir in the form of marches. Cities with sit-ins: Najaf: Al Ishreen Revolution Square, Dyala: (no square, only marches), Babylon: Al Tahrir Wllza Square, Maysan: Maysan Square, Kerbela: Al Ahrar Squre, Baghdad: Al Tahrir Square, Diwaniya: Al Sa’a Square, Muthana: Algadeer Arena and Al Ihtifalat Square, Dhiqar: Al Haboobi Square and Al Zaytoon Bridge, Wasit: Tamose Square, Basra: Abdulkareem Qassim Square

A painting showing the protesters in Al Tahrir and a message to the martyrs: “I am waiting for you to come back and fill the house. I never thought you would return in a Coffin.”

A painting showing the protesters in Al Tahrir and a message to the martyrs: “I am waiting for you to come back and fill the house. I never thought you would return in a Coffin.”

The mural underlines how people see the government’s attitude toward the people and their demands. 

To the left: The government.

To the right: The people.

The mural underlines how people see the government’s attitude toward the people and their demands. To the left: The government. To the right: The people.

The graffiti to the left says: “Generation of the good ones”

The four sentences in calligraphy on top of the painting are typical messages from the protestors:
• I want a homeland
• Taking to the street to take my rights
• The people’s revolution
• October revolution

The graffiti to the left says: “Generation of the good ones” The four sentences in calligraphy on top of the painting are typical messages from the protestors: • I want a homeland • Taking to the street to take my rights • The people’s revolution • October revolution

The painting addresses the unstable security situation in Iraq: “Today is peaceful and tomorrow …?”

The painting addresses the unstable security situation in Iraq: “Today is peaceful and tomorrow …?”

At the beginning of the movement the protestors were sleeping under the sky. Each team had a headquarter. This is the sign for the headquarter of the “anti-smoke bombs team,” also called “hunters”.

At the beginning of the movement the protestors were sleeping under the sky. Each team had a headquarter. This is the sign for the headquarter of the “anti-smoke bombs team,” also called “hunters”.

#October is the second headquarter sign for the hunters team.  The hunters protect the other protestors from tear gas bombs. They catch the flying bombs and make them unusable. In the beginning, they used Pepsi Cola or water and covered the bombs with wet blankets. Later they used a certain liquid from the first aid team, which people put into their eyes against the tears resulting from the bombs.

#October is the second headquarter sign for the hunters team. The hunters protect the other protestors from tear gas bombs. They catch the flying bombs and make them unusable. In the beginning, they used Pepsi Cola or water and covered the bombs with wet blankets. Later they used a certain liquid from the first aid team, which people put into their eyes against the tears resulting from the bombs.

There is no specific name to the protest movement that started in October 2019. Most of the titles people use refer to the month of October, likein this mural here: “October Revolution.”

To the left is a sketch of the Turkish Restaurant. The text below it reads: “Heroes’ Castle.”

There is no specific name to the protest movement that started in October 2019. Most of the titles people use refer to the month of October, likein this mural here: “October Revolution.” To the left is a sketch of the Turkish Restaurant. The text below it reads: “Heroes’ Castle.”

The message: “No to oppression.”

The message: “No to oppression.”

The writing on top to the right is a poem by Mohammed Mahdi Al Jawahiri: 
“From the depths of despair will emerge
A valiant, stubborn generation
Trading in what is for what is desired
And changing what they want to what is real.”

The painting shows a person defending himself against a teargas bomb. It is based on a real photo, posted during the first week in October 2019.

The writing on top to the right is a poem by Mohammed Mahdi Al Jawahiri: “From the depths of despair will emerge A valiant, stubborn generation Trading in what is for what is desired And changing what they want to what is real.” The painting shows a person defending himself against a teargas bomb. It is based on a real photo, posted during the first week in October 2019.

The tear gas bombs that were used against the people in Al Tahrir were expired in 2014 and 2015, but not less effective.

To protect the people from the bombs (tear gas and sound bombs), people donated helmets and gas masks for the protestors at the frontlines.

The tear gas bombs that were used against the people in Al Tahrir were expired in 2014 and 2015, but not less effective. To protect the people from the bombs (tear gas and sound bombs), people donated helmets and gas masks for the protestors at the frontlines.

The image shows the diversity of the protestors in Al Tahrir and the equal participation of women in the movement for a better future for Iraq.

The image shows the diversity of the protestors in Al Tahrir and the equal participation of women in the movement for a better future for Iraq.

The Banksy motif highlights that the children are the future of a country.

The painting in the middle expresses the love of the citizens of Baghdad to their city: “Baghdad in my heart.”

The lettering to the right says: “Freedom for the truth.”

The Banksy motif highlights that the children are the future of a country. The painting in the middle expresses the love of the citizens of Baghdad to their city: “Baghdad in my heart.” The lettering to the right says: “Freedom for the truth.”

The painting refers to a common network game, which was  popular at the time: PUBG. Young men were playing the game for hours and were criticized by society for not doing something more useful with their lives. Tuk Tuk drivers, meanwhile, usually come from poor backgrounds and were often marginalized.

The painting responds to society’s criticism: “The PUBG and Tuk Tuk generation made a revolution.”

The text to the left says:
“I want a homeland.”
“I am the next martyr.”

The painting refers to a common network game, which was popular at the time: PUBG. Young men were playing the game for hours and were criticized by society for not doing something more useful with their lives. Tuk Tuk drivers, meanwhile, usually come from poor backgrounds and were often marginalized. The painting responds to society’s criticism: “The PUBG and Tuk Tuk generation made a revolution.” The text to the left says: “I want a homeland.” “I am the next martyr.”

The lettering in blue on top of the image says: “There’s something in the heart that cannot be killed with guns, it is the homeland.”

To the right is the portrait of the poet and activist Safaa Al Saray, who got killed by a teargas bomb in Al Tahrir on October 28, 2019. From the very first moment protesters decided to work in teams and denied any leadership. His face, the face of a martyr,  became the face of the revolution. 

The people from Al Tahrir called their movement a revolution, as is written in the bottom line to the left: “25.th of October Revolution”

The lettering in blue on top of the image says: “There’s something in the heart that cannot be killed with guns, it is the homeland.” To the right is the portrait of the poet and activist Safaa Al Saray, who got killed by a teargas bomb in Al Tahrir on October 28, 2019. From the very first moment protesters decided to work in teams and denied any leadership. His face, the face of a martyr, became the face of the revolution. The people from Al Tahrir called their movement a revolution, as is written in the bottom line to the left: “25.th of October Revolution”

A message from the early days of the protest movement: “Cancer fighters, you are the greatest revolution.”

A message from the early days of the protest movement: “Cancer fighters, you are the greatest revolution.”

The painting mirrors the scream of the Iraqi people: “We want a homeland.” They hoped to get their rights through the movement which started on October 25.

The painting mirrors the scream of the Iraqi people: “We want a homeland.” They hoped to get their rights through the movement which started on October 25.

”She has seen death.
Martyrs have fallen in front of her.
And her clothes were stained with blood.
She stood and chanted at the top of her voice:
I am a woman, God’s most tender creation…You made me scream, unable to bear other opinions. Living in a country filled with foes…We are a fierce generation, unfearful of burdens.“

Poem by Hadeer Saadoun

”She has seen death. Martyrs have fallen in front of her. And her clothes were stained with blood. She stood and chanted at the top of her voice: I am a woman, God’s most tender creation…You made me scream, unable to bear other opinions. Living in a country filled with foes…We are a fierce generation, unfearful of burdens.“ Poem by Hadeer Saadoun

The teargas bombs not only injured and killed people, but sparrows as well. What the painting says is that birds, too, have a right to live.

The text below says: “The bird was here.”

The teargas bombs not only injured and killed people, but sparrows as well. What the painting says is that birds, too, have a right to live. The text below says: “The bird was here.”

The painting underlines the people’s willpower and conviction to withstand the different violent acts against them: “We are a people that doesn’t fear death.”

The painting underlines the people’s willpower and conviction to withstand the different violent acts against them: “We are a people that doesn’t fear death.”

Another mural that shows the conviction of the protestors. The message says: “Plant a revolution and you harvest a homeland.”

Another mural that shows the conviction of the protestors. The message says: “Plant a revolution and you harvest a homeland.”

This mural is a rendition of Jawad Saleem‘s Freedom Monument in Al Tahrir Square. Since its inauguration on July 16, 1961, the monument has been a symbol of the city of Baghdad. Some even see it as the essence of the Iraqi people and an expression of the Iraqi identity. The monument comemmorates the 14th of July Revolution; it is a narrative of the 1958 revolution, when the Hashemite Monarchy was overthrown and the Iraqi Republic was established under Abdul Karim Qassim as the Prime Minister.

This mural is a rendition of Jawad Saleem‘s Freedom Monument in Al Tahrir Square. Since its inauguration on July 16, 1961, the monument has been a symbol of the city of Baghdad. Some even see it as the essence of the Iraqi people and an expression of the Iraqi identity. The monument comemmorates the 14th of July Revolution; it is a narrative of the 1958 revolution, when the Hashemite Monarchy was overthrown and the Iraqi Republic was established under Abdul Karim Qassim as the Prime Minister.

The young generation in Iraq is always searching for identity. Too many different systems and interests interfere in their life. The image to the right refers to two Iraqi symbols: The Tuk Tuk, the new hero, which is led by Lamassu, the human-headed winged bull, which is an Assyrian protective deity. The lettering says: “Between the present and the past.”

The young generation in Iraq is always searching for identity. Too many different systems and interests interfere in their life. The image to the right refers to two Iraqi symbols: The Tuk Tuk, the new hero, which is led by Lamassu, the human-headed winged bull, which is an Assyrian protective deity. The lettering says: “Between the present and the past.”

The painting refers to the willingness of protestors to withstand the violence perpetrated against them. It says: “If one of us falls, so does the other.“

The painting refers to the willingness of protestors to withstand the violence perpetrated against them. It says: “If one of us falls, so does the other.“

I heard Baghdad calling for me.

I heard Baghdad calling for me.

The mural “Iraq - We are the victims of an exaggerated religion” expresses the influence of certain religious extremist groups whose acts lead to a constant instability in domestic policy.

The mural “Iraq - We are the victims of an exaggerated religion” expresses the influence of certain religious extremist groups whose acts lead to a constant instability in domestic policy.

The calligraphy to the left says:
“Art of the revolution“

The calligraphy to the right says:“Baghdad - City of Peace“

The calligraphy to the left says: “Art of the revolution“ The calligraphy to the right says:“Baghdad - City of Peace“

On October 25, 2019, the demonstrators decided to have a sit-in in Al Tahrir. A few days later they started to write slogans in the tunnel, slogans that express their wishes for the future.

“Tomorrow, we will bring the homeland back to the homeland.”

 “Allah, homeland and the eyes of my lover.”

“Iraq is our home.”

“We want home.”

On October 25, 2019, the demonstrators decided to have a sit-in in Al Tahrir. A few days later they started to write slogans in the tunnel, slogans that express their wishes for the future. “Tomorrow, we will bring the homeland back to the homeland.” “Allah, homeland and the eyes of my lover.” “Iraq is our home.” “We want home.”

“Since the Arab Spring in 2011 the role of martyrs has changed in the Arab world. A martyr is both, a symbol of opposition to state regimes and to represent the power of the people more broadly.”*

At the beginning of the tunnel at Saadoun Street protestors wrote down the cities which participated the movement, and the names of the martyrs of each city. It is just one example of remembering and honouring the martyrs of the 2019 protest movement. The message from the people: “We will not forget you.”

Elizabeth Buckner & Lina Khatib (2014) The Martyrs' Revolutions: The Role of Martyrs in the Arab Spring, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 41:4, 368-384, DOI: 10.1080/13530194.2014.918802

“Since the Arab Spring in 2011 the role of martyrs has changed in the Arab world. A martyr is both, a symbol of opposition to state regimes and to represent the power of the people more broadly.”* At the beginning of the tunnel at Saadoun Street protestors wrote down the cities which participated the movement, and the names of the martyrs of each city. It is just one example of remembering and honouring the martyrs of the 2019 protest movement. The message from the people: “We will not forget you.” Elizabeth Buckner & Lina Khatib (2014) The Martyrs' Revolutions: The Role of Martyrs in the Arab Spring, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 41:4, 368-384, DOI: 10.1080/13530194.2014.918802

One defining feature of the movement was the negation of any kind of leadership. The people appeared as ‘a united nation’. There were no leaders, no spokesmen announced.  At the same time, the role of the martyrs was put in the foreground.

One day in November 2019 the protesters were asked to send names of their spokesmen. The protestors answered to the request by sending a list with the names of the martyrs.

One defining feature of the movement was the negation of any kind of leadership. The people appeared as ‘a united nation’. There were no leaders, no spokesmen announced. At the same time, the role of the martyrs was put in the foreground. One day in November 2019 the protesters were asked to send names of their spokesmen. The protestors answered to the request by sending a list with the names of the martyrs.

The gravity written in Sumerian cuniform letters says: „Love“

The gravity written in Sumerian cuniform letters says: „Love“

“To be born as an Iraqi woman is a battle,” an activist said during the protest movement when women were holding the so-called “Pink March“ in January 2020. The mural represents the call for equal rights for women. It says: “This is how our women are.“

The text to the left says: “A Homeland‘s strength lies in its women.“

“To be born as an Iraqi woman is a battle,” an activist said during the protest movement when women were holding the so-called “Pink March“ in January 2020. The mural represents the call for equal rights for women. It says: “This is how our women are.“ The text to the left says: “A Homeland‘s strength lies in its women.“

“Thanwa’s son” is the poet and activist Safaa Al Saray, who was murdered by a teargas bomb in Al Tahrir on October 28, 2019. He was a normal person, always trying to help people in need. He attended the demonstrations in Al Tahrir since 2011. He would often recite poetry to fellow protestors in the square. Safaa Al Saray was admired by the Iraqi people, his portrait became the face of their revolution after his death.

He is often lovingly called “Thanwa’s son,” in reference to his mother Thanwa. This chosen name highlights the significance of the role of mothers and the role of women in society in general. “Thanwa’s children” is now commonly used to describe revolutionaries in Iraq. 

Another symbol of the protest movement is the Tuk Tuks: “Tuk Tuks are a revolution and a scream in the face of corruption.”

“Thanwa’s son” is the poet and activist Safaa Al Saray, who was murdered by a teargas bomb in Al Tahrir on October 28, 2019. He was a normal person, always trying to help people in need. He attended the demonstrations in Al Tahrir since 2011. He would often recite poetry to fellow protestors in the square. Safaa Al Saray was admired by the Iraqi people, his portrait became the face of their revolution after his death. He is often lovingly called “Thanwa’s son,” in reference to his mother Thanwa. This chosen name highlights the significance of the role of mothers and the role of women in society in general. “Thanwa’s children” is now commonly used to describe revolutionaries in Iraq. Another symbol of the protest movement is the Tuk Tuks: “Tuk Tuks are a revolution and a scream in the face of corruption.”

For the first time in the history of Iraq since 1921 the people were united. Iraq is a diverse country with different ethnicities. During the 2019 protest movement people showed , there was no difference between Muslim and Christian, Shia and Sunni, man and woman, old and young. 

Women were as active as men were. They were helping in the first aid teams and in the different logistic teams: cleaning, cooking, transporting, organizing, spreading awareness.

For the first time in the history of Iraq since 1921 the people were united. Iraq is a diverse country with different ethnicities. During the 2019 protest movement people showed , there was no difference between Muslim and Christian, Shia and Sunni, man and woman, old and young. Women were as active as men were. They were helping in the first aid teams and in the different logistic teams: cleaning, cooking, transporting, organizing, spreading awareness.

There is still no title for the 2019 protest movement, but people described it in different ways, among them the name seen in this graffiti: “Youth Revolution”.

There is still no title for the 2019 protest movement, but people described it in different ways, among them the name seen in this graffiti: “Youth Revolution”.

People started to write messages on the wall in the tunnel expressing their demands, their hopes for the future, and also their anger. The slogan “Peace for Iraq” expresses the wish of the people to one day live in a peaceful homeland. One of the written messages says: “The play is on for too long and the audience is dead.”

People started to write messages on the wall in the tunnel expressing their demands, their hopes for the future, and also their anger. The slogan “Peace for Iraq” expresses the wish of the people to one day live in a peaceful homeland. One of the written messages says: “The play is on for too long and the audience is dead.”

“Tomorrow, we will bring the homeland back to the homeland.”

“Tomorrow, we will bring the homeland back to the homeland.”

“How many men does the government have? You see them as gentlemen, but they are slaves, dogs for the foreigners. They are fierce but against their own people.”

“How many men does the government have? You see them as gentlemen, but they are slaves, dogs for the foreigners. They are fierce but against their own people.”

The painting shows the frontline on Al Jumhuriya Bridge. In preparation to the announced demonstration on October 25, 2019 the government put cement walls in specific places around Al Tahrir Square. Al Jumhuriya Bridge connects Al Karkh with the International Zone and Al Rusafa and leads directly to Al Tahrir Square. From the right side (Al Karkh) the authorities were throwing teargas bombs and sound bombs in the direction of Al Tahrir Square, which was crowded with peaceful demonstrators.

The painting shows the frontline on Al Jumhuriya Bridge. In preparation to the announced demonstration on October 25, 2019 the government put cement walls in specific places around Al Tahrir Square. Al Jumhuriya Bridge connects Al Karkh with the International Zone and Al Rusafa and leads directly to Al Tahrir Square. From the right side (Al Karkh) the authorities were throwing teargas bombs and sound bombs in the direction of Al Tahrir Square, which was crowded with peaceful demonstrators.

On October 27, 2021, in solidarity with the protest movement, educational and cultural organisations and entities, including governmental and private schools and universities, went on strike. The student strike was a strong statement as students are the driving force of society, the hope to bring the country forward. The students were an integral part of the protest movement. In the beginning they marched instead of going to the university to Al Tahrir, later they had their own tents everywhere in Al Tahrir and its surroundings. In late  December they started the “White Wave March“ every Sunday from the Ministry of Higher Education to Al Tahrir. The demands of the students were different from those of other activists, but the common ground was the call for change, which brought everybody together.

On October 27, 2021, in solidarity with the protest movement, educational and cultural organisations and entities, including governmental and private schools and universities, went on strike. The student strike was a strong statement as students are the driving force of society, the hope to bring the country forward. The students were an integral part of the protest movement. In the beginning they marched instead of going to the university to Al Tahrir, later they had their own tents everywhere in Al Tahrir and its surroundings. In late December they started the “White Wave March“ every Sunday from the Ministry of Higher Education to Al Tahrir. The demands of the students were different from those of other activists, but the common ground was the call for change, which brought everybody together.

This mural was made by a young man from Najaf, who never learned calligraphy before. He wrote the names of the martyrs in gold. The mural became very popular and was adapted in different designs.

This mural was made by a young man from Najaf, who never learned calligraphy before. He wrote the names of the martyrs in gold. The mural became very popular and was adapted in different designs.

The mural shows three symbols of the movement, or the revolution as the people called it: The Turkish Restaurant, the house of heroes; Jawad Saleem‘s Freedom Monument in Al Tahrir Square, the symbol of Iraqi Identity; and the Tuk Tuks, Iraq‘s new heroes.

The mural shows three symbols of the movement, or the revolution as the people called it: The Turkish Restaurant, the house of heroes; Jawad Saleem‘s Freedom Monument in Al Tahrir Square, the symbol of Iraqi Identity; and the Tuk Tuks, Iraq‘s new heroes.

The text to the right says: “One’s Homeland is Precious”
And “25 - The Grand Revolution”
 
The text to the left says: “October Revolution”

The text to the right says: “One’s Homeland is Precious” And “25 - The Grand Revolution” The text to the left says: “October Revolution”

October Revolution

October Revolution

The tunnel was not only used as a painting area; it was a venue for both visitors and activists to show that theirs was a peaceful movement. The protestor carries a flower on his knee, planted in a tear gas canister.

The tunnel was not only used as a painting area; it was a venue for both visitors and activists to show that theirs was a peaceful movement. The protestor carries a flower on his knee, planted in a tear gas canister.

During the protest movement people developed an awareness about the importance of local products as an expression of their identity. The mural says “Made in Iraq“ under the flag.

During the protest movement people developed an awareness about the importance of local products as an expression of their identity. The mural says “Made in Iraq“ under the flag.

One of the demands of the movement was the ending of corruption. Oil reserves in Iraq are considered the world’s fifth-largest and 99% of Iraq’s revenue comes from oil. This in turn means that oil pays for everything from the salaries of governmental employees to infrastructure projects and defense. Given the amount lost to corruption, there is little money left to do anything else. The mural says: “I want my share of oil”

On the t-shirt of the person in the mural a paper has been plastered, it includes three slogans that were abundant in Al Tahrir and the surrounding areas after the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi on November 29, 2019 and the announcement of new candidates:
#No to partisans
#We do not want partisans
#The party’s candidates are rejected

One of the demands of the movement was the ending of corruption. Oil reserves in Iraq are considered the world’s fifth-largest and 99% of Iraq’s revenue comes from oil. This in turn means that oil pays for everything from the salaries of governmental employees to infrastructure projects and defense. Given the amount lost to corruption, there is little money left to do anything else. The mural says: “I want my share of oil” On the t-shirt of the person in the mural a paper has been plastered, it includes three slogans that were abundant in Al Tahrir and the surrounding areas after the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi on November 29, 2019 and the announcement of new candidates: #No to partisans #We do not want partisans #The party’s candidates are rejected

“We brought down the stars in Al Tahrir… We turned the Turkish Restaurant  into a chandelier.”

“We want a homeland.”

“We brought down the stars in Al Tahrir… We turned the Turkish Restaurant into a chandelier.” “We want a homeland.”

A cartoon of former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi with the question: “What is wrong with you?”

A cartoon of former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi with the question: “What is wrong with you?”

#We want a homeland

The mural is an adaption of a collage  that went viral on social media during the movement.

#We want a homeland The mural is an adaption of a collage that went viral on social media during the movement.

The Turkish Restaurant became a symbol of the revolution along with the Iraqi flag, Safaa Al Sarray‘s portrait and the Tuk Tuks. In the first week of October 2019, snipers were shooting demonstrators from the building. On October 25, 2019, protestors decided to occupy the empty building. The tall building was used to send messages. 
Top to  bottom: 
“Iraq lives on“
“A salute to the heroes of Al Tahrir“
“Leave.“
“We want a homeland.“

The Turkish Restaurant became a symbol of the revolution along with the Iraqi flag, Safaa Al Sarray‘s portrait and the Tuk Tuks. In the first week of October 2019, snipers were shooting demonstrators from the building. On October 25, 2019, protestors decided to occupy the empty building. The tall building was used to send messages. Top to bottom: “Iraq lives on“ “A salute to the heroes of Al Tahrir“ “Leave.“ “We want a homeland.“

“America go out of Iraq. Iraq for Iraqi people.” The mural is a message from the people against foreign intervention. The original message was: “Iran go out of Iraq.” Iran was later overpainted with America.

“America go out of Iraq. Iraq for Iraqi people.” The mural is a message from the people against foreign intervention. The original message was: “Iran go out of Iraq.” Iran was later overpainted with America.

Photographers and filmmakers played an important role in the protest movement. Their photos and videos documented what really happened in and around Al Tahrir Square. Some photos went through the web like wildfire and were re-displayed on the wall in the tunnel like this photo showing people on the frontline on Al Ahrar Bridge. The message says: “Let us live.“

Photographers and filmmakers played an important role in the protest movement. Their photos and videos documented what really happened in and around Al Tahrir Square. Some photos went through the web like wildfire and were re-displayed on the wall in the tunnel like this photo showing people on the frontline on Al Ahrar Bridge. The message says: “Let us live.“

Artists not only painted on the walls, several musical and theatrical interventions happened in Al Tahrir and others did poster campaigns, one of which the poster in this image is taken from: “IRAQI BLOOD IS FREE.”

Artists not only painted on the walls, several musical and theatrical interventions happened in Al Tahrir and others did poster campaigns, one of which the poster in this image is taken from: “IRAQI BLOOD IS FREE.”

The young generation in Iraq is always grappling with the question of identity. Every day they have to fight against powerful forces in order to assert their own vision for the future. This cartoon expresses the determination of young people to overcome whatever obstacles they face with their heads held high.

The young generation in Iraq is always grappling with the question of identity. Every day they have to fight against powerful forces in order to assert their own vision for the future. This cartoon expresses the determination of young people to overcome whatever obstacles they face with their heads held high.

Contemporary Iraqi identity is a connection between the past and the present. Here, the Turkish Restaurant, the house of the heroes as referred to by protestors, is in the middle of two Lamassu figures. Lamassu is the human-headed winged bull, which is an Assyrian protective deity.

Contemporary Iraqi identity is a connection between the past and the present. Here, the Turkish Restaurant, the house of the heroes as referred to by protestors, is in the middle of two Lamassu figures. Lamassu is the human-headed winged bull, which is an Assyrian protective deity.

“Iraq is for the honorable.”

“Iraq is for the honorable.”

Graffiti in Sumerian cuneiform letters. It says: “Freedom“

Graffiti in Sumerian cuneiform letters. It says: “Freedom“

At the top to the left is written: “Anyone who assaults a human will be held accountable by the laws of the people.”

At the top to the left is written: “Anyone who assaults a human will be held accountable by the laws of the people.”

The cartoon is a collaborative work: “With the help of everyone passed by“ reflecting features of the movement and the events in Al Tahrir.

“Once upon a time there was a land taken away by villains after decades of injustice… People rose above to take it back.“

Under Jawad Saleem‘s Freedom Monument: This is a peaceful demonstration.

Top right: “Attack! Kill them if you must.“ - “Yes sir!“

With the Turkish Restaurant: “Hold your places“

The image on the bottom left shows the football match between Iraq and Iran, which was watched by thousands of Iraqi people in Al Tahrir on November 14, 2019. Iraq won the match.

The cartoon is a collaborative work: “With the help of everyone passed by“ reflecting features of the movement and the events in Al Tahrir. “Once upon a time there was a land taken away by villains after decades of injustice… People rose above to take it back.“ Under Jawad Saleem‘s Freedom Monument: This is a peaceful demonstration. Top right: “Attack! Kill them if you must.“ - “Yes sir!“ With the Turkish Restaurant: “Hold your places“ The image on the bottom left shows the football match between Iraq and Iran, which was watched by thousands of Iraqi people in Al Tahrir on November 14, 2019. Iraq won the match.

#We_Want_a_Homeland

#We_Want_a_Homeland

”1700 - We won’t forget you“ This refers to the ISIS massacre on June 12, 2014 in Tikrit, where 1700 people were killed. The victims were snipers (Iraqi soldiers) stationed at Camp Speicher, but local residents were also killed after being accused of being spies for the Iraqi government.

Below six demands are written (only five of which are visible):
We want our own houses, not rent.
We want health, not death.
We want education, not underdevelopment.
We want an army, not traitors.
We want factories, not unemployment.

”1700 - We won’t forget you“ This refers to the ISIS massacre on June 12, 2014 in Tikrit, where 1700 people were killed. The victims were snipers (Iraqi soldiers) stationed at Camp Speicher, but local residents were also killed after being accused of being spies for the Iraqi government. Below six demands are written (only five of which are visible): We want our own houses, not rent. We want health, not death. We want education, not underdevelopment. We want an army, not traitors. We want factories, not unemployment.

The demonstrators were a mixture of people coming from different social classes with various economic backgrounds. The majority were young people who never had much visibility in their communities before, a forgotten generation. During the movement, they became an important part of society and were seen for the first time: “The revolution of underground“

The demonstrators were a mixture of people coming from different social classes with various economic backgrounds. The majority were young people who never had much visibility in their communities before, a forgotten generation. During the movement, they became an important part of society and were seen for the first time: “The revolution of underground“

On February 25th, 2020 three people were killed in Khilani Square. One of them was the young artist Mohammed Al Mukthar. For many, Mohammed‘s death was a shock and a setback. After his death, his portrait, like that of Safaa Al Sarray, became the face of the protest movement.

On February 25th, 2020 three people were killed in Khilani Square. One of them was the young artist Mohammed Al Mukthar. For many, Mohammed‘s death was a shock and a setback. After his death, his portrait, like that of Safaa Al Sarray, became the face of the protest movement.

The painting sends a message to the movement’s enemies:
“You are a tail*.
I am the revolution.
Leave!“

*”Tail” in Arabic is often used to describe someone who follows an entity or person blindly.

The painting sends a message to the movement’s enemies: “You are a tail*. I am the revolution. Leave!“ *”Tail” in Arabic is often used to describe someone who follows an entity or person blindly.

The mural is dedicated to the martyr Ahmed Karim Kadhim Al Hulfi:

The mural is dedicated to the martyr Ahmed Karim Kadhim Al Hulfi: "Nothing will burden this soul tonight For our drunken hearts will prayVoices of angels brighter than light The message our lovers conveyI sang to a stranger who gave up the fight The future is dark, no longer bright No lifetime is ample for me, no words are enough to sayI shall last next to you in spite of the grief that stays.“ Poem by martyr Ahmed Karim Kadhim Al Hulfi

„We see the future through the tightest nooks.“

„We see the future through the tightest nooks.“

People started to work on this mural in December 2019. The aim of the project was to include all the names of the martyrs. At first, they wrote the names in big letters, but later, as the martyrs increased, the space wasn‘t big enough to accomodate all the names. The names written earlier were overpainted and written again, but in smaller letters in order to include the names of the new martyrs.

People started to work on this mural in December 2019. The aim of the project was to include all the names of the martyrs. At first, they wrote the names in big letters, but later, as the martyrs increased, the space wasn‘t big enough to accomodate all the names. The names written earlier were overpainted and written again, but in smaller letters in order to include the names of the new martyrs.

The lettering in the colours of the Iraqi flagg says: “O, homeland, break free from your chains.”

Other messages say:
“The martyrs are in our hearts.”

“We will not kneel for anyone except god.”

“Freedom heroes.”

The lettering in the colours of the Iraqi flagg says: “O, homeland, break free from your chains.” Other messages say: “The martyrs are in our hearts.” “We will not kneel for anyone except god.” “Freedom heroes.”

"Iraq lives on" This is the portrait of one of the popular protestors in Al Tahrir. For many young people, he symbolizes pure Iraqi patriotism. He was always giving speeches in Al Tahrir, calling for a better Iraq. "When will I have my rights?"

People started the sit-in in Al Tahrir sleeping in the streets under the sky. Critics predicted that the demonstrators would go home once it became cold. Instead, they started to build their own houses, tents. Demonstrators asked other people for help and they donated blankets, tents, nylon, food, money — everything what is needed in Al Tahrir. It was a significant solidarity act.

People started the sit-in in Al Tahrir sleeping in the streets under the sky. Critics predicted that the demonstrators would go home once it became cold. Instead, they started to build their own houses, tents. Demonstrators asked other people for help and they donated blankets, tents, nylon, food, money — everything what is needed in Al Tahrir. It was a significant solidarity act.

The roundabout of Tahrir Square, originally built by the Mayoralty of Baghdad to be used as a bazaar, with many small empty shops, became the home of people from other provinces. Even though there were sit-ins in different cities in Iraq, Baghdad’s Al Tahrir Square was considered the hub of the protest movement. Many people from the other provinces joined the sit-in on Al Tahrir or visited in the form of marches.

The roundabout of Tahrir Square, originally built by the Mayoralty of Baghdad to be used as a bazaar, with many small empty shops, became the home of people from other provinces. Even though there were sit-ins in different cities in Iraq, Baghdad’s Al Tahrir Square was considered the hub of the protest movement. Many people from the other provinces joined the sit-in on Al Tahrir or visited in the form of marches.

Cities with sit-ins:
Najaf: Al Ishreen Revolution Square, Dyala: (no square, only marches), Babylon: Al Tahrir Wllza Square, Maysan: Maysan Square, Kerbela: Al Ahrar Squre, Baghdad: Al Tahrir Square, Diwaniya: Al Sa’a Square, Muthana: Algadeer Arena and Al Ihtifalat Square, Dhiqar: Al Haboobi Square and Al Zaytoon Bridge, Wasit: Tamose Square, Basra: Abdulkareem Qassim Square

Cities with sit-ins: Najaf: Al Ishreen Revolution Square, Dyala: (no square, only marches), Babylon: Al Tahrir Wllza Square, Maysan: Maysan Square, Kerbela: Al Ahrar Squre, Baghdad: Al Tahrir Square, Diwaniya: Al Sa’a Square, Muthana: Algadeer Arena and Al Ihtifalat Square, Dhiqar: Al Haboobi Square and Al Zaytoon Bridge, Wasit: Tamose Square, Basra: Abdulkareem Qassim Square

The four pedestrian tunnels as well as the walls and the living cabins in the roundabout were painted with different motifs.

The four pedestrian tunnels as well as the walls and the living cabins in the roundabout were painted with different motifs.

Graffiti in Sumerian cuneiform letters:

Graffiti in Sumerian cuneiform letters: "Art“

THE OCTOBER MARTYRS CEMETRY
- a symbolic cemetery created by protesters -

THE OCTOBER MARTYRS CEMETRY - a symbolic cemetery created by protesters -

On the 14th floor of this high-rise building was once a Turkish Restaurant. It has been empty Since 2003, however, allegedly contaminated with uranium. The tall building oversees the International Zone. It eventually became a symbol of the protest movement. 

During the first week of October 2019, snipers were stationed there and shot at the demonstrators in Al Tahrir Square.

On the 14th floor of this high-rise building was once a Turkish Restaurant. It has been empty Since 2003, however, allegedly contaminated with uranium. The tall building oversees the International Zone. It eventually became a symbol of the protest movement. During the first week of October 2019, snipers were stationed there and shot at the demonstrators in Al Tahrir Square.

On October 25, 2019, the protestors decided to occupy the now-empty building and gave it the name: “Mount Uhud“. The battle of Uhud in the valley north of Mount Uhud—a mountain north of Medina, Saudi Arabia—was the only battle throughout the Muslim-Quraysh War in 625 AD (7 Shawwal, 3 AH) in which the Muslims did not manage to defeat their opponent. The teams that camped in the building were called “The Turkish Restaurant Heroes“.

On October 25, 2019, the protestors decided to occupy the now-empty building and gave it the name: “Mount Uhud“. The battle of Uhud in the valley north of Mount Uhud—a mountain north of Medina, Saudi Arabia—was the only battle throughout the Muslim-Quraysh War in 625 AD (7 Shawwal, 3 AH) in which the Muslims did not manage to defeat their opponent. The teams that camped in the building were called “The Turkish Restaurant Heroes“.

The tall building was used to send messages, e.g.

The tall building was used to send messages, e.g. "Join and become part of the history“ or “Symbol of the free“ or “You are a good opponent, but so are we“ (written on the banner on top of the building to the right).

At the western wing on the bottom of “Mount Uhud“ people painted a portrait, that became famous on social media. A young photographer published a portrait photo of himself. On his face were messages fixed with clasp pins, messages that stood for specific moments:

“This is my son Mahdi.“ 
wrote a dad in the comments, when people published a photo of one of the martyrs. He found out about his son‘s death through social media.

“I want a homeland“ and “Stop sleeping and wake up.“
were among the most popular slogans of the young generation.

“Nobody loves Iraq like I do“ is an often recited quote by Safaa Al Sarray.

“This is his mother, do not answer the phone.“
Her son got killed on Al Ahrar bridge. When the people went to collect his body, his phone was ringing.

At the western wing on the bottom of “Mount Uhud“ people painted a portrait, that became famous on social media. A young photographer published a portrait photo of himself. On his face were messages fixed with clasp pins, messages that stood for specific moments: “This is my son Mahdi.“ wrote a dad in the comments, when people published a photo of one of the martyrs. He found out about his son‘s death through social media. “I want a homeland“ and “Stop sleeping and wake up.“ were among the most popular slogans of the young generation. “Nobody loves Iraq like I do“ is an often recited quote by Safaa Al Sarray. “This is his mother, do not answer the phone.“ Her son got killed on Al Ahrar bridge. When the people went to collect his body, his phone was ringing.

On the painting is a popular slogan of the movement: #taking_to_the street_to_take_my_rights
It shows a person wearing a gas mask. The people had to wear these gas masks to protect themselves against tear gas. Under the mask is an Iraqi person, represented by the Iraqi flag.
#we_are_here
“The revolution heroes“

On the painting is a popular slogan of the movement: #taking_to_the street_to_take_my_rights It shows a person wearing a gas mask. The people had to wear these gas masks to protect themselves against tear gas. Under the mask is an Iraqi person, represented by the Iraqi flag. #we_are_here “The revolution heroes“

This is a portrait of the martyr Ahmed Mhana on the east side on the bottom of the Turkish Restaurant: “Our martyrs, our pride and honor.

This is a portrait of the martyr Ahmed Mhana on the east side on the bottom of the Turkish Restaurant: “Our martyrs, our pride and honor."

I am the martyr who has fallen for the sake of change. Build me a grave in Al Tahrir.

I am the martyr who has fallen for the sake of change. Build me a grave in Al Tahrir.

The fearful do not create freedom.

The fearful do not create freedom.

Students’ names on the wall

On October 27, 2021, in solidarity with the protest movement, educational and cultural organisations and entities, including governmental and private schools and universities, went on strike. The student strike was a strong statement as students are the driving force of society, the hope to bring the country forward. The students were an integral part of the protest movement. In the beginning they marched instead of going to the university to Al Tahrir, later they had their own tents everywhere in Al Tahrir and its surroundings. In late  December they started the “White Wave March“ every Sunday from the Ministry of Higher Education to Al Tahrir. The demands of the students were different from those of other activists, but the common ground was the call for change, which brought everybody together.
#student_protest

Students’ names on the wall On October 27, 2021, in solidarity with the protest movement, educational and cultural organisations and entities, including governmental and private schools and universities, went on strike. The student strike was a strong statement as students are the driving force of society, the hope to bring the country forward. The students were an integral part of the protest movement. In the beginning they marched instead of going to the university to Al Tahrir, later they had their own tents everywhere in Al Tahrir and its surroundings. In late December they started the “White Wave March“ every Sunday from the Ministry of Higher Education to Al Tahrir. The demands of the students were different from those of other activists, but the common ground was the call for change, which brought everybody together. #student_protest

"The Turkish Restaurant‘s 2nd floor heroes“

The painting is an adaptation of a photo collage that went viral on social media.

The painting is an adaptation of a photo collage that went viral on social media.

“From the depths of despair will emerge
A valiant, stubborn generation
Trading in what is for what is desired
And changing what they want to what is real.”

Poem by Mohammed Mahdi Al Jawahiri

“From the depths of despair will emerge A valiant, stubborn generation Trading in what is for what is desired And changing what they want to what is real.” Poem by Mohammed Mahdi Al Jawahiri

Names of the team: The Turkish Restaurant‘s 7th Floor Heroes

Names of the team: The Turkish Restaurant‘s 7th Floor Heroes

Al Jumhurya Bridge connects Al Karkh with the International Zone and Al Rusafa with Al Tahrir Square. In preparation for the demonstration announced on October 25, 2019 the government blocked the bridge with t-walls. From here they threw teargas bombs and sound bombs in the direction of Al Tahrir. Young men started to walk on the railings and wrote messages under the bridge.

Al Jumhurya Bridge connects Al Karkh with the International Zone and Al Rusafa with Al Tahrir Square. In preparation for the demonstration announced on October 25, 2019 the government blocked the bridge with t-walls. From here they threw teargas bombs and sound bombs in the direction of Al Tahrir. Young men started to walk on the railings and wrote messages under the bridge.

When the situation on Al Jumhuriya Bridge became more peaceful, because the frontline switched to Al Zinek and Al Ahrar Bridge, people started to paint the walls in Abu Nawas street under the bridge.

When the situation on Al Jumhuriya Bridge became more peaceful, because the frontline switched to Al Zinek and Al Ahrar Bridge, people started to paint the walls in Abu Nawas street under the bridge.

Al Rasheed Street between Al Jumhuriya Bridge and Al Zinek Bridge became another place to paint murals. Normally the street is crowded because people visit the shops offering different kinds of hardware and mechanical tools. During the protest movement the shops were closed. The shop owners suffered a loss of income for more than three months. But, instead of complaining, they showed solidarity with the protest movement.

Al Rasheed Street between Al Jumhuriya Bridge and Al Zinek Bridge became another place to paint murals. Normally the street is crowded because people visit the shops offering different kinds of hardware and mechanical tools. During the protest movement the shops were closed. The shop owners suffered a loss of income for more than three months. But, instead of complaining, they showed solidarity with the protest movement.

The protestors were aware of the loss of income the shop owners in Al Rasheed street suffered. On the wall here is a message: “Apologies to the shop owner, but we want a homeland.”

The protestors were aware of the loss of income the shop owners in Al Rasheed street suffered. On the wall here is a message: “Apologies to the shop owner, but we want a homeland.”

"Peaceful" Even though demonstrators faced different kinds of violence by the regime, they insisted on keeping their movement peaceful.

“The sun is more beautiful in my country
than it is anywhere else
Even the darkness is more beautiful there
As it embraces Iraq“
Bader Shakir Al Sayab

“The sun is more beautiful in my country than it is anywhere else Even the darkness is more beautiful there As it embraces Iraq“ Bader Shakir Al Sayab

“If there is no homeland
Then there is no school“

This was the motto of the students‘ strike: they would not go back to university until their demands were met.

“If there is no homeland Then there is no school“ This was the motto of the students‘ strike: they would not go back to university until their demands were met.

In December 2019 the bank of the river Tigris between Al Jumhuriya Bridge and Al Zinek Bridge became an entertainment area for the youth, which was called “Al Tahrir Beach“. Al Tahrir Beach was accessible from three points: Al Jumhuriya Bridge in the south, Al Zinek Bridge in the north and from Al Rasheed Street to the west.

In December 2019 the bank of the river Tigris between Al Jumhuriya Bridge and Al Zinek Bridge became an entertainment area for the youth, which was called “Al Tahrir Beach“. Al Tahrir Beach was accessible from three points: Al Jumhuriya Bridge in the south, Al Zinek Bridge in the north and from Al Rasheed Street to the west.

"Do not reconcile…even if they offered you gold. Would you still see if I gouge your eyes? Even if I replace them with two gems… Would you see? Do not reconcile over blood… even if with blood. Is a stranger’s heart like your brother’s?”

The painting shows an ISHTAR refrigerator and is a call for the people to “Support local Products

The painting shows an ISHTAR refrigerator and is a call for the people to “Support local Products". During the protest movement people raised awareness to the importance of this issue. The Iraqi market is flooded with cheap products from Turkey, China and Iran. There are also local products available, but many of them have fallen into oblivion, like the ISHTAR household devices. ISHTAR was founded in 1959 and is a government-owned company which still exists. ISHTAR products such as refrigerators, freezers, ovens, heaters and boilers used to be a part of every Iraqi household. During the times of the embargo in the 1990s only ISHTAR products were available. The devices are of high quality and have proven to last long. Nowadays, in some houses, there are still functional ISHTAR appliances that are 40 years old or more.

„Until when, homeland?“

„We ask from this life happiness equal to the amount of tears we have shed.“

„Until when, homeland?“ „We ask from this life happiness equal to the amount of tears we have shed.“

Al Zinek Bridge and the nearby garage became another home for the demonstrators during the movement. One artist painted a huge graffiti on the roof of the garage in Sumerian cuneiform letters:

Al Zinek Bridge and the nearby garage became another home for the demonstrators during the movement. One artist painted a huge graffiti on the roof of the garage in Sumerian cuneiform letters: "Peace"

The pillars under the bridge provided additional space for murals.

The sketch in the centre shows a map of Al Rusafa, Baghdad from 1853/1854. The locations where the protestors were camped are marked in geometrical shapes: Al Tahrir Square, Al Zinek Bridge, Al Ahrar Bridge. The positions of the Riot Police are marked with crosses. The map was drawn by a young engineer: “We are the people who make Iraq, but we are used by ruling clan families.“

The wall was later overpainted.

The pillars under the bridge provided additional space for murals. The sketch in the centre shows a map of Al Rusafa, Baghdad from 1853/1854. The locations where the protestors were camped are marked in geometrical shapes: Al Tahrir Square, Al Zinek Bridge, Al Ahrar Bridge. The positions of the Riot Police are marked with crosses. The map was drawn by a young engineer: “We are the people who make Iraq, but we are used by ruling clan families.“ The wall was later overpainted.

Two paintings on the northern part of the garage beside Al Zinek Bridge.

Two paintings on the northern part of the garage beside Al Zinek Bridge.

T-walls surrounding the communication tower beside Al Zinek Bridge and the garage. At first, people only wrote basic, unadorned messages on the walls, before  students started to paint them on December 26, 2019.

T-walls surrounding the communication tower beside Al Zinek Bridge and the garage. At first, people only wrote basic, unadorned messages on the walls, before students started to paint them on December 26, 2019.

Al Khilani Square used to be a frontline until protestors won back Al Zinek Bridge. The street remained blocked with large t-walls, with only a small opening for people and cars to go in and out. Here, people are shown walking towards Al Tahrir Square.

Al Khilani Square used to be a frontline until protestors won back Al Zinek Bridge. The street remained blocked with large t-walls, with only a small opening for people and cars to go in and out. Here, people are shown walking towards Al Tahrir Square.

On the eastern wall between the two street tunnels at Al Tayaran Square people wrote down some of their demands. It was the spot where the “White Wave March” — the student march that took place every Sunday — entered the tunnel on its way to Al Tahrir Square:

- Amend the election law
- Cancel provincial councils
- Switch from a parliamentary to presidential system 
- Elect governors in a direct manner
- Activate the role of the student unions in universities
- Withdrawal of foreign military forces
- Confine the usage of weapons to the government
- Provide jobs
- Change the electoral commission
- Establish  an anti-corruption court

On the eastern wall between the two street tunnels at Al Tayaran Square people wrote down some of their demands. It was the spot where the “White Wave March” — the student march that took place every Sunday — entered the tunnel on its way to Al Tahrir Square: - Amend the election law - Cancel provincial councils - Switch from a parliamentary to presidential system - Elect governors in a direct manner - Activate the role of the student unions in universities - Withdrawal of foreign military forces - Confine the usage of weapons to the government - Provide jobs - Change the electoral commission - Establish an anti-corruption court

Series

"In the photo album of martyrs
There is a missing picture"

The 2019 Iraqi protests were a series of activities all over Iraq consisting of demonstrations, sit-ins and marches. The movement started with a demonstration in Al Tahrir on October 1, 2019, which was the outcome of a several months lasting sit-in for better job opportunities under Jawad Saleem's FREEDOM MONUMENT on Al Tahrir Square. The demonstrators were facing different kind of violence and the demonstration was ended after seven days. In respond to the violent acts, civil activists announced another demonstration on October 25, 2019. It was the beginning of mass protests and strikes which took place in many cities in Iraq for several months. The movement was the largest civil unrest that Iraq has experienced since the 2003 invasion.
 
People were asking for economic growth and employment, a functioning public service, a judicious governance, an end to corruption, new elections and total reforms.

The 2019 Iraqi protests were a series of activities all over Iraq consisting of demonstrations, sit-ins and marches. The movement started with a demonstration in Al Tahrir on October 1, 2019, which was the outcome of a several months lasting sit-in for better job opportunities under Jawad Saleem's FREEDOM MONUMENT on Al Tahrir Square. The demonstrators were facing different kind of violence and the demonstration was ended after seven days. In respond to the violent acts, civil activists announced another demonstration on October 25, 2019. It was the beginning of mass protests and strikes which took place in many cities in Iraq for several months. The movement was the largest civil unrest that Iraq has experienced since the 2003 invasion.   People were asking for economic growth and employment, a functioning public service, a judicious governance, an end to corruption, new elections and total reforms.

The sit-in in Al Tahrir was organised and structured. People were working in different teams. One team was the team of the so called „postmen“. The postmen were photographers and videographers who documented the happenings in Al Tahrir and its neighbourhood and posted on social media. The following photo series shows a collection of photos posted on social media which got viral. 

The photo collection is not a selection and does not claim to be complete.

The sit-in in Al Tahrir was organised and structured. People were working in different teams. One team was the team of the so called „postmen“. The postmen were photographers and videographers who documented the happenings in Al Tahrir and its neighbourhood and posted on social media. The following photo series shows a collection of photos posted on social media which got viral. The photo collection is not a selection and does not claim to be complete.

The photo series was a project with the aim to document the changes taking place to the facade of the Turkish Restaurant on a daily basis. The series is a documentation of the first 40 days.

The photo series was a project with the aim to document the changes taking place to the facade of the Turkish Restaurant on a daily basis. The series is a documentation of the first 40 days.

TAHRIR PORTRAITS is a black & white photo series showing protagonists from Al Tahrir and its neighbourhood.

TAHRIR PORTRAITS is a black & white photo series showing protagonists from Al Tahrir and its neighbourhood.

Iraqi people love football and adore their national football team. On November 14, 2019 thousands of people gathered in Al Tahrir to watch the World Cup qualifier match between Iraq and Iran. Chants, fireworks and drums thundered throughout Baghdad at the final whistle; Iraq ended up beating Iran 2–1. The victory gave the movement a significant shot of adrenaline, further heightening the sense of unity among protestors.

Iraqi people love football and adore their national football team. On November 14, 2019 thousands of people gathered in Al Tahrir to watch the World Cup qualifier match between Iraq and Iran. Chants, fireworks and drums thundered throughout Baghdad at the final whistle; Iraq ended up beating Iran 2–1. The victory gave the movement a significant shot of adrenaline, further heightening the sense of unity among protestors.

Taken with a mobile phone, eight black and white photographs show moments from different perspectives in Al Tahrir Square and its surrounding neighbourhood.

Taken with a mobile phone, eight black and white photographs show moments from different perspectives in Al Tahrir Square and its surrounding neighbourhood.

The photoseries CAPTIONS is a selection of coloured photographs mirroring certain moments in and around Al Tahrir Square during the protest movement, along with captions made up of short written messages. CAPTIONS was presented in an exhibition in December 2019 where visitors were invited to arrange the captions with their corresponding photographs.

The photoseries CAPTIONS is a selection of coloured photographs mirroring certain moments in and around Al Tahrir Square during the protest movement, along with captions made up of short written messages. CAPTIONS was presented in an exhibition in December 2019 where visitors were invited to arrange the captions with their corresponding photographs.

During a ceasefire at Al Rasheed Street, close to Al Ahrar Bridge

During a ceasefire at Al Rasheed Street, close to Al Ahrar Bridge

A protestor who lost seven of his brothers during the revolution asks a riot policeman:

A protestor who lost seven of his brothers during the revolution asks a riot policeman: "Why are you killing protestors?“

The riot policeman answered:

The riot policeman answered: "It is not me. I only execute orders. I am Iraqi, like you.”

The protestor is confused and asks:

The protestor is confused and asks: "But, if you are Iraqi, why are you killing your brothers?" The riot policeman answers: "Well, this is my job. I have to execute orders. I need this job because I have to support my family. I have a wife and children."

When the riot policeman sees the photographer, he yells:

When the riot policeman sees the photographer, he yells: "Do not shoot!" The photographer leaves the scene and continues walking around the area. A few moments later, he meets the same riot policeman, but in civilian clothes and with an Iraqi flag in his hand. Now, his job is to be a spy, because he has a wife and children to support. "Delete my photos,“ he tells the photographer. ”Okay,” the photographer answers, before walking away.

Every Sunday thousands of students were walking from the Ministry of Higher Education to Al Tahrir Square, up until March 2020, when the worldwide lockdown started. The student's march was called

Every Sunday thousands of students were walking from the Ministry of Higher Education to Al Tahrir Square, up until March 2020, when the worldwide lockdown started. The student's march was called "The White Wave March".

A wave of thousands of students, the hope and future of the country, represented through the colour of white. Students have a respected status in the Iraqi community as they should build up the country with their knowledge and expertise. Instead, many faces the problem that there are only a few opportunities to find a job after graduating.

A wave of thousands of students, the hope and future of the country, represented through the colour of white. Students have a respected status in the Iraqi community as they should build up the country with their knowledge and expertise. Instead, many faces the problem that there are only a few opportunities to find a job after graduating.

Even though students had their own demands in the protest movement, they showed solidarity from the very beginning and their intelligent voices had been one of the most respected.

Even though students had their own demands in the protest movement, they showed solidarity from the very beginning and their intelligent voices had been one of the most respected.

The Sunday White Wave March gave a lot of hope to many people.

The Sunday White Wave March gave a lot of hope to many people.

The march was very well organised, a parade with different program points.

The march was very well organised, a parade with different program points.

Women took a specific role in the march. They were holding and waving the Iraqi flag and beat the drums, which is originally only foreseen for men.

Women took a specific role in the march. They were holding and waving the Iraqi flag and beat the drums, which is originally only foreseen for men.

The bank of the river Tigris between Al Jumhuriya and Al Zinek Bridge turned during the protest movement to an entertainment place called

The bank of the river Tigris between Al Jumhuriya and Al Zinek Bridge turned during the protest movement to an entertainment place called "Al Tahrir Beach".

People not only built tents with gardens, they created a coffeeshop, a library, a playground for volleyball, a gym and many more.

People not only built tents with gardens, they created a coffeeshop, a library, a playground for volleyball, a gym and many more.

It was a safe place for students in the morning and mothers with their children in the afternoon with activities organised by the youth such as the Kite Festival on December....

It was a safe place for students in the morning and mothers with their children in the afternoon with activities organised by the youth such as the Kite Festival on December....

One feature of the protest movement was the participation of women of different backgrounds and ages in terms of volume and the types of roles that women played.

One feature of the protest movement was the participation of women of different backgrounds and ages in terms of volume and the types of roles that women played.

There were women at the frontline, in the first aid teams, women were cooking or were part of the logistic teams.

There were women at the frontline, in the first aid teams, women were cooking or were part of the logistic teams.

Other women organised economic support to the protestors in Al Tahrir square.

Other women organised economic support to the protestors in Al Tahrir square.

Beside the large number of young women, the presence of housewives and mothers helping in the way they could was remarkable as well.

Beside the large number of young women, the presence of housewives and mothers helping in the way they could was remarkable as well.

The role of women mirrors the composition of the whole movement - many different groups, each with their own reasons to participate, their own attitudes, and different aspirations.

The role of women mirrors the composition of the whole movement - many different groups, each with their own reasons to participate, their own attitudes, and different aspirations.

Women took over roles, that traditionally are only intended for men, such as carrying the flagg or beat the drum.

Women took over roles, that traditionally are only intended for men, such as carrying the flagg or beat the drum.

Videos

a Revolutionary walks slowly
Under the rain"

Women plaid an important role in the protest movement. Throughout the country women and men organised women marches such as in Nasseriya, Erbil, Basra and Baghdad. On February 13, 2021 people from Baghdad called for the so called “Pink March”. Women of all ages, but mainly young women were demonstrating around Al Tahrir Square.

Posters

"Martyr's soul
standing on his coffin
White Pigeon"

About

“Painter painting with bright colors
a painting of a dancing Revolutionaries
a funeral passes in front of the painting
The revolutionaries stop their party
And they stand ready”

Baghdad Tahrir Art shows street art, photos, videos and posters that evolved in the area of Al Tahrir Square in Baghdad during the protest movement that started in October 2019 up until March 2020, when the worldwide lockdown started.

Baghdad Tahrir Art represents an archive of images and videos from the youth protest movement that began in October 2019 in Baghdad’s Al Tahrir Square and links them to the specific places where they were created. On display are selected murals, photographs, poster designs, and video statements that highlight how young artists, creatives and amateurs used the medium of imagery to portray their desires and demands as well as to show solidarity.

The homepage commemorates the event while changing the way we look at the past and the present. It is an archive of commemorative culture, and in order to protect the individual protagonists, all material is published anonymously.

The homepage is in the form of a map, since the protest movement was not limited to the public space of Al Tahrir Square, but extended to other public spaces such as Al Saadoun Street, Al Jumhuriya Bridge, the Tigris bank between Al Jumhuriya and Al Sinek Bridge, Al Rasheed Street to Al Ahrar Bridge, Al Wathba Square, Al Khilani Square, Al Tayaran Square and Al Ummah Park and at times the Mohammed Al Qassim Highway.

The murals created in the tunnel (road subway running under Al Tahrir Square) were the beginning of a series of murals in different locations of the public space encompassing the sit-in. The murals are not mere examples of street art; they were created as contributions by their respective artists, who were driven by a desire to support the movement — cultural offerings, if you will, for the people who had settled in and around the square, as well as the visitors who came every day to express solidarity.

Besides the murals, artists, photographers, filmmakers and graphic designers took on the role of “postmen” for the movement, contributing their share by posting information on social media in order to show the reality of what was happening. Different poster designs were published that conveyed different messages, and although some were printed they were mostly distributed on social media platforms.

Adding content on this homepage will be possible even after the launch of the virtual exhibition. It is the start of an archive that will hopefully grow over time.

Brief historical abstract

The 2019 Iraqi protests, also known as the Tishreen Movement (Tishreen corresponds to October in the Syriac calendar used in Iraq and the Levant) were a series of activities all over Iraq consisting of demonstrations, sit-ins and marches. The movement started with a week-long demonstration in Al Tahrir on October 1, 2019. It was the continuation of preceding demonstrations by certain sectors of society, but also an outcome of people’s anger after the dismissal and relocation of Abdel Wahab Al Saedi, widely regarded as a national hero and known as the ‘Liberator of Mosul’.

From the very beginning, demonstrators were faced with violence. “Baghdad was put under a curfew and Iraq faced an internet blackout, 75% of the country’s internet was shut down. On October 5, 2019, unknown forces raided many private TV channels in Baghdad for airing the protests. At the beginning of the protest, during the first week of October, demonstrators were mainly young men.” Faced with state violence, different acts of solidarity started to take shape among the demonstrators. Tuk Tuk drivers were transporting protesters who had been injured or killed. Other people started to distribute water, food and Cola. The latter in particular was used against the effects of tear gas. The demonstrations ended after seven days in Al Sadr City.

In response to the violence the initial protests were met with, civil activists announced another demonstration on October 25, 2019. It was the beginning of mass protests and strikes which took place in many cities in Iraq for several months. “The movement was the largest civil unrest that Iraq has experienced since the 2003 invasion” and can be considered a continuation of a series of peaceful demonstrations and protests that started in February 2011, initiated by journalist Hadi Al Mahdi, who was later assassinated on September 8, 2011. While demonstrations were being held every Friday over the past 10 years, on October 25, 2019 protestors decided to stay in Al Tahrir and to protest in the form of a sit-in.

In a sit-in, demonstrators occupy a place open to the public. The sit-in in Baghdad was in Al Tahrir Square and its neighbourhood where protesters set up a tent city with a self-organised functioning infrastructure and governance.

Other cities with sit-ins:

Babylon: Al Tahrir Wa’l-lssa Square
Basra: Abdulkareem Qassim Square
Diwaniya: Al Sa’a Square
Nasseriya: Al Habubi Square and Al Zaytoon Bridge
Kerbela: Al Ahrar Square
Maysan: Maysan Square
Muthana: Algadeer Arena and Al Ihtifalat Square
Najaf: Al Ishreen Revolution Square
Wasit: Tamose Square

Additionally, different marches in the aforementioned cities took place, as well as in Dyala, Erbil, Kirkuk and Suleimaniya.

The movement’s demands, composition and features

“Baghdad – 10 November 2019

Over the past weeks, demonstrations erupted in Baghdad and other governorates in Iraq. Protester demands cover a wide spectrum of issues, including economic growth and employment, reliable public services, prudent and impartial governance, an end to corruption, credible elections as well as broader reform of the political system – including amendments to the constitution.”

The composition of the movement reflected Iraq’s complex society. The participants came from a variety of political, religious, societal and ideological backgrounds. Different groups shared the same mission, groups who normally wouldn’t communicate with each other. What united them was a vision: “We want a homeland!”, but what united them also was the place: Al Tahrir, Baghdad. “All provinces agreed about the importance of Baghdad as the key symbol of the movement. One protestor noted: ‘In Baghdad you find people from all the different social, religious and sectarian classes including women.’.”

Even though the movement included young and old, the Iraqi youth was the driving force, with a massive women’s participation. “A Woman’s Voice is a Revolution” is written on a wall painting in the tunnel under Al-Tahrir Square, underlining the role of women in the movement. “While remarkable, this participation is not surprising, it only makes visible deep societal realities and transformations that have found their space of expression in the Iraqi streets and squares of protest.”

While often criticized as leaderless, especially from international ‘parties,’ the movement was far from unorganised or unstructured. The movement represented a united nation, demonstrating against a ruling system that had fallen short. “… They are risking their lives and wellbeing to shape, coordinate and direct a movement that serves the greater good, not themselves.”

The movement was organised in different teams: the frontliners, who held their positions on the barricades; the hunters, who tried to render the flying teargas bombs unusable; the different first aid teams with tents everywhere to help injured persons; the Tuk Tuk drivers, who transported injured people, visitors and goods and played loud music to motivate and entertain the people; the strategic team, which planned the next steps; the logistic team, which distributed goods from tent to tent; the cooking team, which served everybody with food and drinks; the cleaning team, which organised the cleaning all over the place; the painting team, which covered the walls with murals; the media team which documented what was happening via photo and video then posted it on social media; the graphic design team which developed different poster designs and also distributed them on social media.

All these teams got support from people outside of Al Tahrir through donations of either money or material goods. If Al Tahrir needed something, protestors called on social media: “It is becoming cold. We need blankets.” And people sent blankets and clothes to Al Tahrir. Everyone tried to find their own way to support the movement. For the first time in the history of Iraq, the nation was united. Even though it lasted only a specific period of time, it shows the transformation within the Iraqi people, and their genuine wish for a change, especially among the young generation.

Credits

Our thanks and appreciation to all participating artists, contributors, team members, colleagues, and friends, who made this project possible.

The virtual exhibition BAGHDAD TAHRIR ART is a project in the framework of “Artists: Creators of Social Change” conceived and implemented by elbarlament and kindly supported by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs Germany.

Baghdad Tahrir Art
E-Mail: baghdadtahrirart2019@protonmail.com

Website
Content editor: Marya Saad
Translation: Yasmine Zohdi
Design: Basics09
Code and motion design: Rasso Hilber
Project Manager: Kenza Rady
Project Assistant: Maha Atteah

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The information and contents on this website do not reflect the opinion of elbarlament and the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs Germany. All information and images have been carefully researched and checked and can be changed at any time. Elbarlament and the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs Germany cannot accept any liability for the correctness, completeness, or topicality of its contents. Elbarlament and the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs Germany are not responsible for any contents linked or referred to from this website and accept no responsibility for its presentation in the websites of third parties.