The mosque, which dates from the 19th century, is situated beside the historic bridge over the Tigris River. With its white dome, it is one of the most striking sacred buildings in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq. For three years, the city was under the control of the terror militia, “Islamic State”, before it was recaptured by the Iraqi armed forces in 2017. Parts of the mosque and other historic buildings in the country have been destroyed as a result of war and political instability.
New post-war and post-conflict phase
The Federal Foreign Office is supporting the stabilisation, reconstruction and restoration of the mosque complex through its Cultural Preservation Programme. The project is being carried out in close cooperation with UNESCO, with the Federal Foreign Office providing funding of 450,000 euros until 2021 for the reconstruction. An agreement on the project was signed on Sunday (14 April 2019) by UNESCO and the German Embassy Baghdad.
During a visit to Iraq in December 2018, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said: “Following the war and conflict, a new phase is starting in Iraq, and it is important that the Iraqi population can also see this.”
Coexistence between the religions
The project serves to protect cultural diversity. Furthermore, Germany aims to help foster peaceful coexistence between the religions. Mosul reflects Iraq’s overall religious and ethnic diversity. “Cultural heritage provides orientation and gives people a sense of identity. In this way, it can also play a part in reconciliation,” Maas said during his visit to Iraq.
The first step in the restoration will be to take an inventory of the damage and the remains of the mosque. At the same time, local experts will be trained in restoration and conservation techniques. The idea is that the project will also create opportunities for people in Mosul to earn money.
Wide range of cultural heritage measures
The reconstruction of the Aghawat Mosque is not the only cultural heritage project that the Federal Foreign Office is supporting in Iraq. As part of the project, Stunde Null: A Future for the Time after the Crisis, a further training programme for Iraqi archaeologists and the staff of the antiquity authority was established in 2016. The Federal Foreign Office is also providing funding for an excavation campaign in the ancient city of Nineveh and for conservation measures in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site of Uruk, an ancient Near Eastern city dating from the fourth millennium BC.
The German Archaeological Institute project presented here is supported by the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office. It helps to preserve architecture in Uruk, facilitates the protection of outstanding monuments and improves tourism infrastructure.