Iraqis gather at a cultural café named "Book Forum" in the former embattled city of Mosul on January 6, 2018, six months after Iraqi forces retook the northern city from Daesh extremists. (AFP / Ahmad MUWAFAQ)
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Literary cafes, poetry readings and pavement bookstalls -- Mosul's cultural scene is back in business, months after Iraqi forces ousted Daesh (ISIS) from the city following three years of extremist rule.A few months ago, opening a mixed-gender literary cafe in Iraq's second city would have been unthinkable -- punishable by flogging or death under Daesh rule.Like many young graduates in Iraq, the 30-year-old engineer had few prospects of finding employment.Iraqis are renowned in the Arab world for their literary culture.Abdelmonim al-Amir, head of Nineveh province's writers' union, said he wants the world, which associates Mosul with "blood, destruction and desolation", to know that the city has another face.Hind Ahmed, a 31-year-old engineer, said the mission was important to Iraq, which in December announced the "liberation" of the country and the "end of the war" against Daesh.
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