Iraq is Losing her Creative Backbone
The literary giants of Iraq are dying off and little is being done to help them.
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Iraq is on the verge of losing some of its most precious assets. Several giants of Iraqi literature are currently very ill, but there seems to be no chance of either the expenses of their medical treatment being covered or of their being sent abroad.
Meanwhile, Iraqi politicians are engrossed in their permanent crisis. Perhaps there is no one left who will care enough to heed the appeal put out by the General Union of Writers in Iraq, which recently called on the government to “intervene quickly to save the lives of a number of Iraqi writers who are in ill health.” This cry for help came after the well-known novelist, Fahd al-Asadi suffered his third stroke. He is now in the Sheikh Zayed Hospital in Baghdad, having completely lost the ability to speak.
Although such calls seem futile, there remains the need for rapid action. Voices must be raised to parliament enquiring about the fate of the law for sponsoring creative people that was suggested years ago. Questions should be asked about the share culture is going to be allocated in the laws parliament intends to pass during its current session. Public opinion through demonstrations should remind the elected members of parliament that the face of the country they represent today is the product of its creative people and their work over many decades.
Public opinion through demonstrations should remind the elected members of parliament that the face of the country they represent today is the product of its creative people and their work over many decades.If none of this works, let us take note of the step taken by the ex-minister and parliamentarian, Mahdi al-Hafez, less than two weeks ago. He called on the United Nations to intervene to guarantee that the principles of “fair rule” are implemented and to put an end to to the “strange practices” of the ruling blocs represented in parliament. Intellectuals should call on the United Nations to urge parliament to adhere to the Iraqi constitution, particularly clause 35 which states: “the state has to sponsor cultural activities and institutions in keeping with Iraq’s cultural history and civilization.”
Instead, the heros of Iraqi culture continue to pass away. Sixteen writers died in the first half of this year alone. Most of their deaths were the result of illness and a decline in their general health, according to press reports. “Many of them could have perhaps been saved from death or at least their early deaths could have been prevented had they received the health care they needed,” according to the Writers’ Union.
By: Hussam al-Saray