First Published: 2014-02-27

Iraq opens new museum commemorating uprising against Britain
Represents a symbol of rejection of slavery and foreign occupation.
Middle East Online

Statue of one of the resistance fighters

Najaf (Iraq) - Iraq opened a museum in the Shiite pilgrimage city of Najaf on Thursday commemorating a 1920 uprising against British occupation in a building that once housed captured soldiers.

The opening of the Najaf Heritage and 1920 Revolution Museum in the Khan al-Shilan building was attended by Tourism and Antiquities Minister Liwaa Smaisim, as well as tribal leaders and politicians.

"This is the first museum dedicated to the heritage and history of Najaf, and represents a symbol of the rejection of slavery and foreign occupation," Smaisim said.

The opening ceremony included a reenactment of an attack by tribesmen on British soldiers following their capture of the country from Turkish troops in World War I.

A statue of one of the resistance fighters stands in the museum's courtyard.

Najaf is home to the shrine of Imam Ali, one of the most revered figures in Shiite Islam, and is visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year.

But Smaisim said he hoped it would also see cultural, recreational and archaeological tourism.

The museum houses Ottoman-era documents and artefacts on its ground floor, while the upper level is dedicated to the 1920 uprising.

Some rooms still preserve graffiti on their walls scribbled by captured British troops.

Khan al-Shilan was originally intended to be a rest house for pilgrims visiting Najaf.

But it was used as an Ottoman military headquarters before the defeat of the empire in World War I and then an administrative centre when Iraq became a British mandate.

During the 1920 uprising, Khan al-Shilan briefly reverted to local control and was used as a prison to hold captured British troops.

The revolt was ultimately defeated, and Iraq did not gain independence until 1932. It was reoccupied by Britain during World War II.

British forces returned to Iraq during the 1991 Gulf war, and took part in the US-led invasion of 2003.

Khan al-Shilan has served a variety of functions over the years. Najaf's first electrical generator was installed in the building in 1933 to supply power to the Imam Ali shrine and surrounding Old City.

It was later used as a flour mill and then an ice factory. But it ultimately fell into disrepair, until the museum project gave it a new lease of life.

 

Palestinians react to death of Peres

Syrian army retakes rebel-held Aleppo district

UN Libya envoy warns against ‘political impasse’

Morocco finally adopts Amazigh as official language

Saudi petition seeks 'full' rights for women

Poverty takes toll in rebel-held Yemen fishing village

Kerry threatens to end negotiations with Russia on Syria

Kuwaiti court scraps petrol price hike

Iraq requests more US troops to take on IS in Mosul

Airstrikes hit hospitals in rebel-held Aleppo

Iran nuclear chief says not worried about Trump

Iranian, Italian ships hold manoeuvres in Strait of Hormuz

Gunmen kill three Egypt policemen, civilian in Sinai

Turkey says 32,000 coup suspects awaiting trial

Paris to host international meeting on Libya

Etihad plane in emergency landing in Abu Dhabi

Struggling Saudi Oger lays off 1,300 staff

Israel ex-PM to serve 27 months for graft

Syrian kids return to school in Manbij

World Bank releases $300 million for Syrian refugees in Jordan

Iranian FM in Ankara for Syria talks

Israeli ex-president Peres dies

Oil prices post marginal gains

Russia tries to strongarm US with Aleppo assault

Jordan vows crackdown on online incitement

Assad, Russia press intense Aleppo assault

Iran's Ahmadinejad says will not run for president

Boris Johnson dismisses Erdogan goat poem as 'trivia'

Turkey dismisses 87 spy agency staff over failed coup

Egypt recovers sunken boat, more bodies

Israel's Peres 'fighting for his life'

Bombings kill at least seventeen in Baghdad

Netanyahu chooses diplomacy in US election

Iran sets conditions for joining terror finance taskforce

Who is the destroyer of Timbuktu shrines?

Israel to charge Lieberman party officials in graft probe

Egypt detains owner of capsized migrant vessel

Countless bombings in Baghdad’s Karrada since 2003 US-led invasion

Clinton, Trump clash in fiery first presidential debate

Moroccan gets death threat messages over cartoon posted by killed Jordanian

Saudi king unveils austerity drive

Israel prosecutor general denies going easy on PM

Iran frees Iranian-Canadian academic

Supplies dwindle, strikes intensify in Syria's Aleppo

Rebels, civilians quit Homs under deal with regime