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.

 

New UN envoy looks to revive talks as battles intensify across Yemen

Civilian massacre in Syria northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughur

Sudan accuses UNAMID of killing civilians in Darfur

Israel invites tenders for 77 East Jerusalem settler homes

Closure of key trade route deals harsh blow to Jordan economy

Israel charges soldiers for theft in Gaza war

First Saudi National Guards deployed on Yemen border zone

Sudan to unveil election results

Turkey rounds up 350 migrants en route to Europe

Iraq army announces ‘progress’ in Anbar province

Will Somalia Shebab choose Qaeda or Islamic State?

Abbas condemns Israel killing of two young Palestinians in separate incidents

‘Islamic State’ suicide bombers target Iraq-Jordan crossing

Four Egypt Islamists killed while preparing bombs

Extremist groups capture last major regime holdout in northwest Syria

‘Islamic State’ kills Iraq senior officers in Anbar province

Deadly fighting rages in Yemen southern towns

Entrepreneurs encourage people to ‘buy Syrian’

Over 100 children killed in Yemen since March 26

Libya militia alliance 'carries out air raids' against IS

UN 'confident' rebels will sign Mali peace deal

Petraeus gets two years probation for info leak

Iranian ships turn back from Yemen

Palestinians mourn as Jews celebrate

UN chief set to appoint Mauritanian diplomat as Yemen envoy

Obama takes 'full responsibility' for deaths of Qaeda hostages in US operation

Turkey warns Austria over decision to condemn ‘Armenian genocide’

Yemen conflict poses dangers across Gulf of Aden

Hopes for final deal on second day of Iran nuclear talks in Vienna

Security tightened at Saudi shopping malls

US returns stolen Egypt artifacts

EU mulls military action against human traffickers in Libya

Libyan journalist shot dead in Benghazi

Arms experts warn of 'Faustian bargain' with Iran

Fresh Saudi-led air strikes target Yemen rebels

Rebel-IS clashes in Syria kill at least 42 fighters in 24 hours

Who’s more dangerous: Jihadists who left their countries or those staying at home?

France foils 'imminent' attack by jihadist sympathiser

Algeria army kills three armed Islamists west of capital

Israel removes Palestinian teen's name from memorial wall

Egyptian businessman testifies at Al-Jazeera retrial

Kenya asks donors to save world’s largest refugee camp

Sanctions, possible Congress intervention to dominate fresh nuclear talks

Arab army chiefs kick off work on building regional force

One year after agreement, Palestinian reconciliation hits rock bottom