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 Christians bury victims with tears, anger

UN says nations bombing IS must protect civilians

Palestinians end mass hunger strike in Israel jails

Probe finds over 100 Mosul civilians killed in US air strike

Syria girls escape war with Snow White

Egypt hits jihadists as IS claims deadly attack on Christians

Britain arrests two more in Manchester attack probe

Turkey charges opposition newspaper staff

Death toll in Tripoli clashes reaches 52

Hundreds of migrants rescued in major operation off Libya

Ramadan in Libya: little cash, much violence

UN braces for up to 200,000 Iraqis to flee Mosul

Iraq forces launch broad attack on IS holdouts in Mosul

Civilians flee IS-held Syria cities after deadly strikes

At least 28 dead in Tripoli clashes

26 killed in attack on Egypt Christians

Turkey identifies 'intelligence weaknesses' before coup attempt

Tunisia opens trial over 2015 beach massacre

Syria army takes control of key road

US-led strikes kill 35 civilians in east Syria

Palestinian president says US should mediate hunger strike

Libya says working closely with Britain over concert attack

EU leaders, Erdogan meet in bid to ease tensions

Myanmar to deport Turkish family wanted for alleged coup links

Iran says it has built third underground missile factory

Trump gets rough ride in EU, NATO meeting

Saudi minister confident on oil output deal

Egyptians brace for austere Ramadan

Qatari FM says country victim of smear campaign, particularly in US

Britain probes jihadist network amid row with US intelligence

Egypt blocks several media websites including Jazeera

IS suicide bomber kills five in Somalia

Israel uneasy over 'crazy' regional arms race

Algeria president replaces Prime Minister

16 civilians dead in coalition strikes near Raqa

4 arrested in Tunisia anti-corruption drive

German MPs call off Turkey visit as tensions fester

Palestinian hunger strike row draws solidarity, controversy

Britain raises terror alert, deploys troops after concert massacre

Qatar probes state news agency hack

At least 20 migrants killed in Mediterranean

Israeli joy at Trump visit lacks substance

Oman evacuates Australian man from Yemen

Bahrain police open fire on Shiite protest, kill five

Turkey arrests hunger strikers on terror charges