A whole array of religious, literary and cultural texts were on display at Erbil International Book Festival, which was attended by notable Iraqi and Kurdish figures.
The city of Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) recently launched its 14th International Book Fair, which has attracted over 300 different publishers from around the world and will last at least ten days.
Officials and religious clerics have been among the book fair’s attendees so far, which will also be holding seminars that discuss the current situation in Iraq and the role of books in spreading the peaceful ideology of coexistence and tolerance.
“There are a lot of debates, seminars, and dialogues on Iraqi culture and the crises experienced by our society and Eastern societies in general,” said Azad Dartash, the Deputy Minister of Culture in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
According to the organisers of the book fair, over a million books have been put on display, a majority of which focus on combatting extremism.
“There are various books that prevent the spread of extremist ideas and intolerance, and these books are good,” said Riskarali Amin, a former lawyer in Iraq. “There is also considerable freedom to bring and display books, even some controversial ones.”
Since the defeat of ISIS militarily Iraq, the authorities have attempted to counter the militant group’s ideology by focussing on religious literacy and education. As a result, the majority of the books that seek to counter radicalisation have been translated into different languages in an attempt to reach the most significant number of people.
Attendees say that the existence of such a wide variety of books and topics has attracted many readers, who did not attend in previous years.
“Participation this year is greater than participation in previous years, and the evidence is that since the first day, the exhibition seems lively and promising,” said Kareem Ali, an author attending the book fair.
While events like these in Iraq have always been an attraction for locals to see authors and poets face to face, this book fair has attempted to go beyond and aim to exhibit books that will influence the country’s future.