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Kurdistan Book FairShowcases Mideast Talent

A book fair in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan's capital, showcased regional and international literary talent and served as a unifying event against a backdrop of violence and sectarianism, writes Abdel Hamid Zebari.
A girl and her father look at books at the Guadalajara International Book Fair in Guadalajara November 24, 2012.  REUTERS/Alejandro Acosta (MEXICO - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR3AUCG
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The 2013 Erbil International Book Fair, organized by the publishing house Al-Mada for Media, Culture and Arts, showcases more than a million books in their original languages. Erbil, the largest city in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, is hosting the fair's eighth gathering, which opened April 2, in cooperation with the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ministry of Culture and Youth.

The organizers this year deliberately chose not to feature books promoting violence or sectarianism. Al-Mada general manager Ghada al-Amili said in a statement to Al-Monitor, “There was a prior agreement between the Ministry of Culture and Al-Mada to limit extremist Islamic publishing houses. We imposed strict regulations and censorship on books that incite violence and sectarianism, and we succeeded in deterring the participation of these publishing houses, and for that we apologize to them.”

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