The ongoing battle against the cruel occupation of Daesh in the ancient city of Mosul in Iraq is a necessary yet tragically costly one for its weary and beleagured residents.
One small piece of good news, however, amidst the tough fighting between liberating forces and Daesh, is the return of normal life to the areas of Mosul recently liberated. The freedom for women to go about their lives without fear of punishment; the removal of fear among young men from being arbitrarily arrested by Daesh for minor or made-up transgressions; even the ability to smoke a cigarette on the street without being harassed by a thug, these are the happy results of liberation from a form of governance so restrictive and so cruelly enforced.
Another facet of daily life in Mosul severely curtailed under Daesh rule that is making a rapid comeback is satellite television.
“Now we know what is happening in the world,” said one Mosul resident to AFP.
For months on end under Daesh the residents of Mosul were denied basic information on what was happening both in and outside of their city. Daesh systematically banned and confiscated satellite television receivers in Mosul in an attempt to isolate residents from outside sources of information, and to prevent people from fleeing Mosul once liberating forces amassed to remove the occupiers.
Among the television channels impacted were local Nineveh Province channels like al-Mousalia, al-Sharqiya and Nineveh al-Ghad, and foreign stations like Al Jazeera and Al Hadath.
It is also thought that Daesh did not want its fighters to hear of any setbacks and counter-propaganda, with one local politician quoted by Reuters saying that, “They are scared of satellites because they give a realistic picture of the situation.”
Daesh were very aggressive in their attempts to confiscate satellite television receivers, and threatened to cut electricity generators if Mosul residents did not hand them over. Previously, Daesh had coerced residents to hand over their receivers in return for financial aid or the release of a relative from prison.
“If they caught you, you’d get lashes,” said Sarmad Raad, a resident of the Shaqaq al-Khadra district of Mosul, to AFP.
Further, it has been reported that Daesh also tried to scramble and jam the signals over which local television and radio stations were broadcasted into Mosul. One radio station, al-Ghad has been continuously jammed with Daesh broadcasting a signal over its frequency. Al-Ghad tried switching to other frequencies, and also conducts live broadcasts for Mosul’s embattled residents by allowing them to call in through mobile phone apps like Viper and WhatsApp.
In the liberated parts of Mosul, demand for satellite dishes and receivers is enjoying a revival, though satellite dish seller and installer Mohammad Turki tells AFP that, “Today, although business is good, it hasn’t yet reached a tenth of what it was before Daesh arrived.”
“Today there’s huge demand. People in Mosul were cut off from the world. We didn’t know what was happening around us,” Turki added.