Work has begun on a new monument in Fallujah that will honour victims of terrorism and memorialise the destruction that has struck the Anbar province city in recent years.
Anbar's local government is funding the project, which kicked off December 17th, and workers say the monument should be finished by July or August 2013.
The monument is located in the centre of Fallujah, Anbar governor Qassim al-Fahdawi told Mawtani, "and its construction is being supervised by an Iraqi construction company and a number of Iraqi sculptors".
Similar monuments will be built in other Anbar cities to memorialise victims of terror, al-Fahdawi said.
The Fallujah monument "is meant to be a remembrance of our beloved ones who were taken from us by blind hatred and a wave of terror", he said. "It is also a reminder to all of what might happen if we allowed terrorism to be in control of our society again."
The monument will be built from stone and black and white marble and will stand 10 metres high when completed, al-Fahdawi said. It will be a landmark -- elevated so that anyone entering or leaving the city will see it.
"The monument is composed of a large base of an 8-metre diameter, from which a mast of an Iraqi flag rises up, supported by a band of arms, representing the unity of the world -- and that of the Iraqis in particular -- against terrorism," he said. "A number of white pigeons splashed with blood are strewn near a poisonous snake, which represents terrorism."
Fallujah district council chairman Hameed al-Hashem told Mawtani the idea for the monument was conceived during a conference that compared the city's pre-2008 condition to its condition now and sought to single out negative and positive aspects of the city's reconstruction. Officials also wanted to incorporate the ideas of young people in developing the city.
Al-Hashem said the idea for the monument "was born out by the city's youth who endured that phase and survived it with difficulty".
Additionally, he said, "a number of citizens and businessmen made generous donations to help build the monument, out of their belief that any work that immortalizes victims of terrorism and condemns the terrorists would be a service to humanity and religion, which was built on goodwill, peace and compassion, and not as the current killers interpret it."
Taha Maarouf, a craftsman and construction supervisor, said the final project should be completed within eight months and will include a surrounding garden, benches where people can sit and a blank wall on which visitors can write messages.
"We are still in the first phase, which includes levelling the land, digging the foundations and then pouring the concrete mortar," he said. "This is expected to last about six weeks due to the continuing rainfall on the city."
Maarouf said he and four other artists had turned down payment because the memorial honours their families, "including my son and the son of a colleague, who were killed in a terrorist car bomb explosion three years ago".
"The work will be strictly dedicated to those who were deprived of the gift of life without having committed any wrong," he said. "It will also be a reminder to the killers and terrorists -- who are still lurking among us -- every time they pass by it to know the extent of their lowliness and the amount of contempt the people feel towards them."
"The value of the memorial monument is more than immortalizing the victims and condemning the terrorists by depicting them as snakes," said Jabbar Ali al-Alwani, chairman of the "Peace organisation", a civil society group that cares for terrorism victims and those disabled by attacks. "Rather, it is a message of peace to all the city visitors, confirming that the people of Fallujah reject and condemn terrorism."
"The city residents try in any way to immortalise the city's martyrs by visiting their graves, or giving their streets the names of religious leaders, security men or children who were killed in terrorist attacks," Fallujah mayor Adnan al-Dulaimi told Mawtani.
"I believe the monument will be a crowning achievement of their attempts to commemorate victims of terrorism, as well as renouncing it," he said.