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.

 

Egypt, France agree to step up cooperation against terrorism

US slams Assad regime for ‘continued slaughter’

Pope to rebuild bridges with Islamic world in Turkey visit

OPEC meets for pivotal decision on oil output

Lebanese diva Sabah passes away

Powers to push for Iran nuclear deal before new deadline

Iraqi forces, tribesmen battle IS jihadists in Ramadi

Egypt jails 78 minors for pro-Morsi protests

Regime indiscriminate strikes kill scores in Islamic State 'capital' in Syria

Putin meets with Syria Foreign Minister in Black Sea retreat of Sochi

Britain rushes to fight terror with controversial bill

Gunmen kill 3 Egypt policemen in fresh terrorist attack

Iran lawmakers finally approve third Rouhani science minister pick

Turkey clears only suspect in alleged poisoning of former president

Huthis humiliate Al-Ahmar clan with capture of Sanaa headquarters

Christians hold out in Syria second city despite Daesh threat

Libya’s Derna emerges as new IS stronghold

Egypt to reopen Rafah border crossing Wednesday

Egypt leader begins two-day trip to France

Tribesmen blow up Yemen’s main oil pipeline

Russia trims oil output

UN chief calls for halt to Libya air strikes

Syrian air strikes on Raqa kill 63 civilians

17 killed in fatal Cairo building collapse

Egypt nabs five Salafist leaders

Essebsi leads Tunisia presidential vote

Paris pushing for 'safe zones' in war-torn Syria

New air strike hits Tripoli’s sole operational airport

Pentagon chief steps down

Saudi seeks to ‘knock out’ shale oil competitors from oil market

Death toll rises from Morocco flash floods

Yemen troops free 8 hostages from Al-Qaeda

Italy hails Egypt as 'strategic partner'

US Congress skeptical of Iran nuclear talks extension

Khartoum, Darfur rebels open ceasefire talks

Time runs out for biggest chance to resolve Iran nuclear standoff

Egypt leader heads to Italy

Morocco arrests six over online IS allegiance pledge

Iraqi forces retake areas near Iran border from jihadists

Southern Morocco storms claim eight lives

Marzouki, Essebsi set for runoff in Tunisia presidential vote

Biden wraps up Turkey visit without breakthrough on Syria

Sudan launches investigation into claims of 'mass rape' in Darfur village

Assad urges ‘real pressure’ on backers of 'terror'

Israel eyes powers to revoke rights of Arab residents