Iraqi school teacher transforms assault rifle into a musical instrument

20 August 2019, 11:37

Majed Abdennour plays his reimagined assault rifle
Majed Abdennour plays his reimagined assault rifle. Picture: Getty

By Helena Asprou

It’s not every day you see a violent weapon reimagined as a musical instrument – but for Majed Abdennour, this assault rifle was meant for better things…

Majed Abdennour, a school teacher based in Baghdad, has transformed an old assault rifle into a one-of-a-kind musical instrument.

The Iraqi teacher had originally owned the weapon to protect his family during the worst years of violence in his city.

Between 2006 and 2008, extremist groups had overruled the area and posed a threat to local communities, causing many Sunnis and Shiites to hide behind closed doors.

In an interview with The Siasat Daily, Abdennour explains: “All of a sudden, it was as if all the ties that had connected us didn’t matter anymore.

“Iraq became a huge battleground, the war was everywhere.”

This lute was once a violent weapon
This lute was once a violent weapon. Picture: Getty

But after losing a number of his cousins and friends in the attacks, the musician decided his Kalashnikov assault rifle was meant for better things – and today, it’s a beautiful lute.

He said: “I ask myself: why war? Why violence? I’ll transform all that into music.”

Sat at home in Baghdad’s southwestern Al - Bayaa’ neighbourhood, Abdennour strums the strings of musical invention, pointing out that the soundbox was once an ammunition case.

Majed Abdennour’s reimagined Kalashnikov rifle
Majed Abdennour’s reimagined Kalashnikov rifle. Picture: Getty

Previously used for storing bullets, the large case and gun had been taken to a metalworker, who initially seemed confused by the teacher’s request to create a custom-built lute: “I told him: don’t ask questions, do it!

“And I was sure that he thought I was mad.”

Through his unique invention, Abdennour now hopes to spread the message of peace and healing through music.