Wall's fair in love and war
Tal Afar grapples with graffiti epidemic
TAL AFAR, Jan. 23 – In Tal Afar, messages in Turkish, Arabic, English, and Russian adorn walls of homes, shops, and government buildings, puzzling volunteer teams with their varied content. These range from governance and proverbs to unrequited love messages, alongside professional advertisements and tributes to “veterans.”
The inscriptions largely comprise product ads, notes on unrequited love, drawings, hashtags, and the names of teenagers and – possibly – soldiers who helped free the city from the clutches of Islamic State.
Some scribbles offer wisdom and poetry; others show humor and sarcasm, expressing disillusionment or offering handles for social media accounts.
Saad Ahmed, a civil activist, told 964media, “Youth forums could channel these talents into positive activities. Municipalities should penalize those defacing walls.
“This phenomenon, new since 2014, shocked us upon return, with some inscriptions offending public decency.
“I supported documenting ISIS fighters’ writings before removal, as vital historical evidence for the city. Some could aid in identifying perpetrators or finding Turkmen and Yazidi captives.”