How One Man In Iraq Is Using A Paintbrush To Counteract Messages Of Hate From ISIS

A whole new kind of graffiti.

ISIS graffiti in Mosul, Iraq, is getting a powerful facelift thanks to one man and his paintbrush.

In eastern parts of the city that have been liberated from the Islamic State, Mosul residents have been painting over messages of hate that were left behind. Sadoun Dhanoun, however, is taking things a step further by painting his own messages in their place.

New York Times correspondent Rukmini Callimachi spotted the man this past week and spoke to him. She shared his story on Twitter, along with photos of him at work.


According to Callimachi, the wall Dhanoun was working on had previously been painted with a verse calling for violence. Dhanoun replaced it with the saying, "In life, be like a sugar cube, so that when you are gone you leave a sweet taste."

Dhanoun found the quote by searching for "wise sayings" in an internet cafe. It spoke to him "because ISIS left everyone with a bad taste in their mouth."

He was reportedly hired by a senior citizen group and is painting at least seven walls in the area using donations adding up to less than $200. He showed Callimachi the other sayings he had written down, and said he also plans to paint flowers. 

"His aim is to bring back beauty," Callimachi wrote. "It'll be so pretty when he's done, he said, maybe drivers will be distracted. I know it made me stop."

Dhanoun's story touched the Twitter users who read it, inspiring messages of support and admiration.

In January, Iraqi forces drove ISIS out of eastern Mosul, which had been occupied since 2014. However, according to the BBC, it has been more difficult to regain control in the western half, due to its narrow streets. ISIS has left extensive damage throughout Iraq and Syria, including to places of worship and historical sites.

Sadoun Dhanoun isn't the only one working to bring beauty back to war-torn areas. As reported earlier this year, young Iraqi artist Ninos Thabet has taken up the task of creating replicas of statues from the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud.

To borrow a saying from Dhanoun's wall, these men and others like them will most certainly leave a sweet taste.

(H/T: Bustle)


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