Mr Mokdad moved back into his now-empty family home in the al-Salam neighbourhood of east Mosul. All his friends, and most of his neighbours, had left long ago. He felt as if he was being watched at every moment, that one wrong step could cost him his life. He found escape by playing his violin in the innermost room of the house, putting blankets over the windows to muffle the sound. He spent his days composing concertos, imagining himself performing them with a world-class orchestra. “I felt by doing this I was, in my own way, fighting Daesh’s ideology,” he said. “They could take away my freedom but not my self-expression.” Mr Mokdad had come from a creative family; his father a sculptor, his mother a painter. They had moved from their hometown of Baghdad to Mosul in 2003 when the war broke out, hoping it would be safer for Ameen and his two brothers and sister. He remembers his parents struggling for money when he was younger, so he was surprised when his father bought him a violin and classical music CDs for his tenth birthday.