Another year, another Ramadan celebrated in Iraq while fighting rages. Iraqi forces say they are now in the final throes of battling ISIL in northwest Mosul, from where hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled.


But around the country, people are busy marking the most important Muslim holiday of the year, even though Iraq has been effectively at war since it was invaded by US-led forces in 2003. Since then, Ramadan has never been the same.

Hala Sarraf, the founder of the Iraq Health Access Organisation, described to The Stream how her organisation has greeted Iraqi families who have just managed to escape Mosul. They are in need of food, water, and medical assistance.  Her organisation, though, is also preparing Ramadan Kareem baskets, and it has visited neighborhoods that were recently taken by Iraqi security forces. They are trying to bring the cheer of Ramadan with them.

Some residents have developed gallows humour over the years. Others, like Hassan Hadad, say that a foe like ISIL has united people against a common enemy.

ISIL claimed responsibility for two bombs that went off last week killing at least 47 people. One of those bombs was detonated near a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad around the time families broke their fast.

The Al-Faqma ice cream parlour reopened just five days later, writing in a post on Facebook that they had been working day and night to reopen the restaurant to "defy terrorism".

Last year during Ramadan, a suicide bomber killed over 300 people in the deadliest attack in 13 years of war.  

But despite displacement and death Iraqis find ways to keep the holiday spirit alive; they are resilient because they have to be. The Stream hears bittersweet reflections from Iraqis on how the celebration has changed over the years.

Joining The Stream:

Raed Jarrar @raedjarrar
Government Relations Manager, American Friends Service Committee

Hala Sarraf
Founder, Iraq Health Access Organization

Hassan Hadad @abufellah
Resident, Baghdad

Suadad al-Salhy @suadadalsalhy
Journalist, Middle East Eye

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