How is Iraqi cellist Karim Wasfi using music to fight terrorism?

Iraqi musician & conductor Karim Wasfi is working to bring music to war-torn countries.

Since 2015, and after witnessing violence and destruction in his homeland, the respected cellist left the concert halls and began to perform amongst rubble.

His campaign, called Music for Peace, aims to counter the intimidation of insurgents and lend support to victims of civil unrest.

“It was a message to encourage people to continue, and to continue to be human. To continue be connected and attached to life.” Wasfi explains. To do it at [a war-torn] spot was to turn every element in life into a theatre, acting in full connectivity against radicalisation and against terror.”

The 47-year-old has performed at approximately 25 destroyed sites, including Mosul, which suffered an attack in 2017 by the so-called Islamic State.

The strike blew up the Al-Nuri mosque along with its 850-year-old leaning Al Hadba minaret.

According to Wasfi, music is an essential tool for empowerment and engagement in society.

He believes that the younger generation shouldn’t appreciate the art form passively, but instead consider it a catalyst for positive leadership and a brighter future.

“At the societal level, at the community level, education and enlightenment is the only empowering driving force behind preserving a momentum,” he says.

Wasfi adds that, despite war and its aftermath, culture will always be present and active in the Middle East region.

“Culture will never die in Iraq,” he says. “Or even in the region, where there is a rich history of civilisations, of shared cultures, and exposure to other cultures of integration.”

With his Peace Through Arts Global Foundation, Wasfi plans to continue to create lasting change, fighting for his ideals whilst spreading his message of positivity worldwide

“When this area dries out of oil, we can flood the whole world with culture,” he says.


Palestenian cellist Naseem chose an historic setting for his first music video.

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