Shafaq News/ Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani on Sunday said that his government intends to launch interest-free loans for Iraqi publishing houses as a gesture of support for the cultural milieu.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the 24th edition of the Baghdad International Book Fair, al-Sudani said, "We announce that your government will remain supportive of the cultural affair, firmly believing that culture is greater than crises," adding that "supporting culture is part of the government program."
He noted that the government will take measures to facilitate the work of publishing houses, pledging to grant them interest-free loans just like the support extended to the organization of book exhibitions in the country.
Over the past decade, and particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a number of initiatives have been launched across the country encouraging Iraqis, especially the nation's youth, to develop a love of reading.
In 2014, a few months after the liberation of the northern city of Mosul from ISIS, the residents there staged their first reading festival. During the occupation of Iraq's third-largest city, its famous library at Mosul University was bombed and burned down the extremists, an event dubbed "The Book Massacre of Mosul".
The library, which was established in 1967, was once one of the biggest libraries in Iraq, containing hundreds of thousands of books and manuscripts.
In September 2017, Mosul residents staged a literary festival called "From the Ashes, the Book Was Born".
Attendees were asked to bring one book and donate it to the university's library. According to the UN, the event collected more than 6,000 books in one day, helping to restock and rebuild the destroyed library.
In 2021, more than 250 international and Arab publishers took part in the Basra book fair, which included a range of cultural activities.
Still, the uncertain political situation continues to weigh on not just the book-publishing industry but the small and medium enterprises sector in general.