Iraqi violinist, Ameen Mukdad held an hour-long performance in an ancient site revered by both Muslims and Christians in Mosul, Iraq, on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
Thousands, including Mukdad, had been forced to flee the city after it fell under the rule of Daech (ISIS) militants in 2014.
The musician fled to Baghdad, where he still lives, after fighters broke into his house, confiscated his instruments, and told him that playing or listening to music is a violation of Islam.
Before he was forced to flee the city, the musician defied Daech (IS) militants by continuing to play his music at home, closing the windows to avoid being heard.
His event in Mosul marks the first time he visits the city after its eastern half was liberated by Iraqi forces in January. Even though most parts of the city have been liberated, ISIS militants continue to control "the Old City across the Tigris river."
Speaking to Reuters, he explains that he chose to play near the ruins of the "Tomb of Jonas, or Mosque of the Prophet Younis," because it is a site that symbolizes unity to Muslims.
"This is a place for all, not just one sect. ISIS represents no religion but is an ideology that suppresses freedom," he said.
"We still want to be happy."
The fact that only twenty people attended the event is a sign that many locals still live in fear, given what they had to endure under the terrorist group's rule.
But the performance is also a symbol of the slow return of life to the city and comes at a time when ISIS is losing its ground in what was once considered its Iraqi "capital."
Tahany Saleh, a woman attending the concert said that the "performance was like a dream," adding that not even war can stop life in Mosul.
"You can see all this damage, but we still want to be happy, we want to listen music," she said.