Since 2003, most of the stories and images coming out of Iraq have been of the devastation and despair caused by the conflict and violence that has plagued the country’s recent history.
Yet Mesopotamia – modern-day Iraq – is believed to have been home to the world’s oldest civilisation, and the region flourished for years thanks to its strategic location at the heart of the ancient Silk Routes. Over the years it has played host to empires, armies, traders and intellectuals, and the city of Baghdad in particular was long renowned for its rich cultural history.
Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad, the historical centre of bookselling in the city (image: Newsweek)
Tragically, this has come to be overshadowed by violence and conflict, driven by a host of actors including despotic rulers, foreign armies, Islamist extremists and sectarian entrepreneurs.
In spite of Iraq’s bloody recent past, its people have shown extraordinary resilience in the face of war, persisting against all odds to rebuild their lives and their country. These Instagram accounts show what life is like behind the headlines for ordinary Iraqis.
- Everyday Iraq (@everydayiraq)
Everyday Iraq features the work of a variety of Iraqi photographers and Instagrammers whose photos depict what would be considered mundane in many places, but in Iraq seems remarkable, from shoppers browsing bookshelves in Baghdad to students celebrating their graduation.
- Ahmed Twaij (@twaiji)
Ahmed Twaiji’s remarkable photos highlight the dramatic contrasts at play in Iraqi life, ranging from the everyday grit of life on the streets of Baghdad to the rolling hills of Kurdistan. His Instagram clearly shows how beautiful the country still is, even after years of war.
- Mr Erbil (@mr.erbil)
Mr Erbil is a “gentlemen’s club” founded in Iraqi Kurdistan that focuses on fashion and social change. They are determined to portray a more positive image of their homeland, and they are using fashion to challenge stereotypes by mixing classic Italian style with their Kurdish culture.
- Abdullah Dhiaa Aldeen (@abdullahphotos)
Abdullah Dhiaa Aldeen is a documentary photographer for Reuters, based in Iraq. His photos give a poignant insight into how people’s everyday lives have been touched by war, but how culture and hope have prevailed despite the physical devastation of parts of the country.
- Hanin Al Khayat (@haninalkhayat)
Hanin Al Khayat is a dentist who, like any other social media user, documents life in Iraq through Instagram. These refreshing photos show virtually no trace of the conflict that has engulfed the country in recent years, instead focusing on Iraqi culture, food and beautiful sunsets.
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