Mosul blogger defies ISIS by listening to violinist Itzhak Perlman

Updated 8:51 AM EST, Mon November 28, 2016
Iraqi families, who were displaced by the ongoing operation by Iraqi forces against jihadistds of the Islamic State group to retake the city of Mosul, walk at a camp for displaced people near Qayyarah on October 24, 2016.
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Story highlights

The music helps "restore my faith and my peace," the Mosul blogger says

ISIS banned music in the Iraqi city more than two years ago

(CNN) —  

He has been secretly posting about Mosul since the summer of 2014, after the militant men in black overran his hometown.

He says he is an independent historian determined to let the world know what it was like to live under the brutal rule of ISIS. So he began a blog called Mosul Eye in which he tried to document aspects of life in Iraq’s second-largest city. He risked being caught by ISIS and a punishment of death.

But he kept going, undeterred in his quest to write about the suffering of his city.

He wrote about food shortages and power outages; the burning of library books and ancient places; the harsh new laws prescribed by ISIS and the equally harsh punishments for violating those laws – including public executions.

How ISIS is using human shields in the fight for Mosul

In one of the first posts in 2014, Mosul Eye reported this: “ISIS fighters are carrying laptops which contain a database of civil and military records. They are launching checkpoints around the city, asking for people’s IDs, looking for their ‘wanted’ people.”

Sometimes, Mosul Eye has been rather matter-of-fact, but in recent days, as a bloody battle looms between Iraqi forces advancing on the city and the ISIS combatants, the writings have turned decidedly melancholy. A few hours ago, Mosul Eye listened to violinist Itzhak Perlman play a concerto on his Stradivarius. Music, banned by ISIS, helps keeps him alive, he said.

“I have always asked myself how a human being is capable of creating such a beauty from the ruins,” the blogger wrote.

“Quietness and calm are still dominant in Mosul. I will not write about fear tonight. I will write about my dreams that might not happen, maybe not in my life time, because they remain dreams and imaginations, and I very well know that the greatest inventions were born from imaginations. …

Mosul Eye

“In the heart of all of this, I used to turn to those great musicians to help me restore my faith and my peace. … Maybe Mosul will be liberated during this week, maybe the week after, maybe in a month, or two, but in the end, Mosul will be liberated.”

CNN is unable to verify the Mosul Eye blog and its posts on Twitter and Facebook independently, but Iraqi journalists and scholars vouch for its veracity.

Businessman Mohammed al Mawsily, who runs the underground Alghad radio station that broadcasts the voice of Moslawis, said Mosul Eye often posts information that has already appeared on Arabic social media sites but the blog appeals to international audiences because it offers a rare glimpse into Mosul in English.

The city was severed from the outside world after ISIS took control and banned the use of satellite television, the Internet and global cell phones.