At the Hercules Cultural Fair in Qamishli, people have been finding books that were previously banned under Ba'athist rule, including many pieces of work in Kurdish.
The Hercules Cultural Fair, the third edition of which is being held in Qamishli in northeastern Syria, invites visitors to socialise and seek solace in reading in the midst of political instability.
An organiser of the Hercules Cultural Fair told reporters that the initiative was inspired by the societal importance of reading. In addition, it is hoped that the exhibition will serve as a hub for intellectuals and writers in the area to display their works, and also visit the site themselves to meet with adorning fans and fellow writers.
The book fair us using the slogan “A society that reads is a rising society”, and is hosting 43 publishing houses and cultural institutions inside its walls. There is a total of around 112,000 books in the fair on all kinds of topics and in various different languages, including Arabic, Kurdish, Syriac, Turkish, English and French. What’s also new at the book fair is that for the first time under the rule of the Autonomous Administration, there are books that were previously forbidden by the Syrian Government.
One woman visiting the fair told reporters of her joy at being able to find books in Kurdish for the first time, pointing out that the Ba’athist regime did not allow it.
“As you know, the Baathist regime didn’t allow us to buy Kurdish books,” said the woman. “Now, there are Kurdish books in this exhibition and I can buy all the books that I need.”
The Hercules Cultural Fair has created a big stir in the city of Qamishli, with cultural activities as diverse as painting, music, seminars and monologues on offer here. Given the diversity of the people attending the Fair, it is perhaps no surprise that opinions differ with regards to the contents of the books. However, all seem to agree that there is no society poorer than that which does not read, regardless of the conclusions drawn.