For over a decade, a government sanctioned night-time curfew has restrained the streets of Baghdad. The lifting of the curfew in February, to restore a semblance of normalcy to the otherwise war-torn community, has unfortunately seen an increase in explosive attacks.
In the last week of April, Baghdad saw yet another horrific act of violence when a car, packed with explosives, was detonated in the busy Mansour district. The explosion killed ten and injured nearly thirty more. Later that day, another explosion, claimed the lived of nine more.
In an act of defiance, Cellist Karim Wasfi, renowned conductor of the Iraq National Symphony Orchestra, took out his cello and began playing in front of the blast site.
Stunned onlookers were overcome with emotion, as the beautiful notes carried their message over the desolation and created a much needed reprieve, from the unrelenting horror.
Wasfi believed his music was helping to create life, in objection to and defiance of the death experienced on a daily basis – at the hands of terrorists.
“It was an action to try to equalise things, to reach the equilibrium between ugliness, insanity and grotesque, indecent acts of terror – to equalise it, or to overcome it, by acts of beauty, creativity and refinement” Wasfi told Al Jazeera.
“I wanted to show what beauty can be in the ugly face of car bombs, and to respect the souls of the fallen ones,” he said.
The reactions from the onlookers simply reaffirmed Wasfi’s belief that in times of destruction, the beauty and life propelled by music can heal in ways that nothing else can.
“They loved it. Soldiers cried. They kissed, they clapped, they felt alive, they felt human and they felt appreciated and respected” stated Wasfi.
Music, according to Wasfi, is the “international language of mutual understanding. It’s everything.”