ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Dozens of people flocked to Kobani in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) over the weekend to participate in the town’s first ever book fair.
The event was organized with help from the local administration in North and East Syria. The organizers said one of their goals was to encourage people to read more books and to learn about their history, language, and culture.
There were about 4,000 books on display and for sale at the fair from eight libraries across Rojava.
The two-day event which began on Friday included books in Kurdish, Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, and English.
Visitors picked up books to look at the colorful, intriguing cover art and explore the words inside the covers.
One of those was Zakaria Mustafa, a young Kurd from Kobani, who expressed his delight on the momentous opening.
“Today is special because it is the first time in Kobani that a book fair is organized,” he told Kurdistan 24 on Friday. “Kurds in Rojava always dreamed of a day where something like this would be organized.”
“It is a joyous day, and we congratulate all Kurds, especially those in Kobani, on this moment and wish those whose efforts made this possible much success.”
Kobani, a town which is no stranger to oppression and violence, was one of the first areas in Rojava where the so-called Islamic State suffered its first significant defeat in 2015.
Years later, the region still contains memories of injustice as it is now home to hundreds of Kurds displaced from Afrin following a Turkish-led campaign last year.
A group of Afrin residents who participated in the book fair put on display literature that reflects their ongoing struggle.
“We are here as a symbol of strength for Afrin,” one of the Afrin natives told Kurdistan 24. “It is a shame what the conditions are like in Afrin: unstable and unsafe.”
“It is always important, whether through music or books, to share the injustices our people in Afrin suffered and continue to suffer.”
(Additional reporting by Redwan Bezar)