ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The local administration in the Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) city of Qamishlo on Saturday launched its annual book fair for the third year in a row.
Dozens of locals from the city and surrounding areas visited the fair to view and purchase the thousands of books on display. The festival was named after Hussain Shawish (Sehid Herekol), a Kurdish intellectual and writer who also served as a commander of the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
According to one of the organizers, 43 publishers, libraries, and institutions from across the Greater Kurdistan, including the Kurdistan Region and Kurdish provinces in Turkey, and Syria took part in the fair.
“This the third time we are holding this book fair in Qamishlo, which has become an annual event,” Layla Jamal, one of the organizers of the fair, told Kurdistan 24.
Jamal said this year’s fair has a different vibe to it than previous years because the number of books and those who are interested in reading has increased. “There is a significant rise in the number of visitors this year,” she noted.
“One of our primary goals is to grow each year. We want to be bigger than the previous year and continue to share these books with the local community and those abroad,” Jamal explained.
“We aim to encourage the population in Rojava to return to reading. We are delighted at the number of people who have visited the fair on the first day and purchased books.”
The event began on Saturday and will continue until July 25.
Abud Makhsu, another member of the organizing committee, said visitors could also attend various seminars during the six-day event on the different books and their histories.
“There are 8,600 book titles which are on display here at the book fair, and the total number of books is 112,000,” Makhsu told Kurdistan 24.
He said there is more freedom in Rojava since the Kurdish revolution in the country’s northeast. “Now, there is enough freedom that anyone can publish their books to read and write in Kurdish, English, French, Arabic, or Syriac,” Makhsu said.
Abdullah Sheikho, one of the directors at a local library in Qamishlo, said he hopes the book fair continues to grow so people in Rojava “have more freedoms in the society” and can “read and write in many languages.”
“The diversity in our region must progress and continue to exist at the highest level,” Sheikho told Kurdistan 24.
He called on the rest of Syria to adopt the culture of tolerance and coexistence in the country’s northeast “because Syria is a mosaic of cultures and languages, and these diversities should be respected.”
(Additional reporting by Farhad Hame; Wladimir van Wilgenburg contributed to this report)