Smoke-filled pool halls are back in Mosul. After ISIS, ‘we seek joy’

The Washington Post reports: Inside the Captain pool hall in eastern Mosul there are few signs that a war still rages in this city or that earlier this year the Islamic State was in control here.

A gathering place for pool and snooker lovers since the 1990s, the smoke-filled room tiled with grimy beige marble exudes a faded charm, one mirrored in its customers, now back at the tables after being deprived of their favorite pastime for more than two years.

Shortly after the Islamic State took control of Mosul in the summer of 2014, hitting brightly colored balls with a well-chalked cue was among the many activities the group ruled un-Islamic and a distraction from jihad, and it ordered the halls to be shut down.

With the militants now expelled from the city’s east, Captain is one of more than a dozen pool halls that have reopened as residents try to bring back a sense of normalcy to their lives. New clubs have also opened up, betting that residents will indulge in some of the pleasures that were banned by the militants.

“We don’t seek winning, we seek joy,” said the owner, Faris al-Abdali, an international snooker referee, as he finished up a game. “The wheel of life is turning again, but it’s slow.” [Continue reading…]

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