New Iraqi libraries to promote democracy, counter extremism

A librarian looks through folders of historical documents in Iraq's national library in Baghdad. [Mohammed Ameen/Reuters]

A librarian looks through folders of historical documents in Iraq's national library in Baghdad. [Mohammed Ameen/Reuters]

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Twenty-one new Iraqi government-sponsored libraries, to be constructed throughout the provinces, will provide free services to students and researchers, and seek to explain and promote the concept of the new democratic system in Iraq.

Construction of the new libraries, which started in the beginning of April, will cost 22 billion dinars ($18.9 million), Nihad al-Abbasi, Iraq's government advisor for scientific affairs, told Mawtani.

The libraries, aside from their basic role as houses for knowledge, will be places for teaching political sciences, restraint from violence and extremism, and promoting the democratic system in Iraq, "because there is confusion among Iraqi youth on this issue", he said.

Each building will be three stories and will house a reading room, another for conferences, a hall for film projections and a cafeteria. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The libraries -- which may house as many as 100,000 books -- will include research that discusses the phenomena of extremism, radicalism and terror.

The project is receiving direct support from the United Nations and Britain, al-Abbasi said.

References for Iraqis

Abdullah al-Jubury, scientific advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Education, told Mawtani the construction of these libraries "comes at a time when Iraqi society is witnessing a drop in reading rates among the young, and students at universities and institutes cannot find modern, first-class libraries".

He said the new libraries will be "scholarly and cultural edifices which will act as reference for Iraqis to help them understand and interpret many aspects of public and political life in the new Iraq".

"The libraries will be like palaces for culture in the centre of every Iraqi province, will be open until four o'clock in the afternoon and will have a staff of employees, professors [available for consultation] and approved religious scholars," al-Jubury said.

The libraries will also organise programmes and conferences hosting professors from Iraqi and well-known European universities, as well as experts from the United Nations, to discuss the concepts of freedom, democracy, environment, health, religion, inter-religious dialogue and the economy, he said.

Dr. Khalid al-Ani, chairman of the department of libraries at Baghdad University, said the construction of the new library buildings is "an important step in building up anew the personality of the Iraqi individual".

"Many Iraqi youths depend on the internet to retrieve data and are exposed to views which are not necessarily correct, and may cause serious flaws in the process of learning and social life in Iraq," he told Mawtani.

To counter this trend, these libraries will be like "scholarly cafés" in which the young will meet, al-Ani said.

More libraries to come

Constructing the libraries is only the beginning and "the next budget of 2013 will witness the construction of double this number", said Ali al-Dabbagh, the Iraqi government spokesperson.

"Nurturing Iraqi thought, correcting the course of the educational process and regaining Iraq's status as a first in the Arab region in terms of reading, printing, publishing and authorship is a priority for the Iraqi government," he said.

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    هشام صدقي

    2012-5-15

    I pray to Allah to restore security, safety and stability to Iraq, given that they are key issues for everything, especially as Iraq is a wealthy country which possesses expertise, wealth and a workforce. However, what we really need are loyal people who would lead the country and ensure safety, stability and international and Arab support. Then, Iraq will progress once again, but in a completely different way this time, to become among the world’s developed and advanced countries. Believe me, I personally expect that if Iraq achieves stability, the future in this country will be totally different. In this respect, within a few years, Iraqi citizens may live better than any other people whom Iraqis might envy for that now. I also expect that one day Iraq and Iraqis will become the masters of the world because we are really the best. Yet, the tragedies and wars as well as the lack of stability which our country has experienced have brought about the backwardness of Iraq instead of its development. However, this cannot deny the fact that the opportunity still exists given that some nations, who are currently considered as developed countries, have experienced the same circumstances and overcome them. The simplest examples are Japan, China or many other countries which have gone through wars, disasters, scourges and other things but they have overcome them. Thus, God willing, we are able to overcome all the difficulties and establish a real place for Iraq among the world countries.

  • نجيب حمود

    2012-5-11

    Peace be upon you. I say that we have to fight the extremists in order to get rid of them in any way. The governments of those States where the extremists exist have to fight them. I think that extremism is very important to eliminate, as it harms a lot of Muslims. We must get rid of them in a very large way. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the Arab countries where there is extremism as they have reached a very sophisticated stage. They are still fighting these groups in order to save the kingdom from their evil and, God willing, O Lord of the universe, You will grant the security and the safety of your tolerant religion. God willing, no one will be able to distort the true religion. In my opinion, these groups want to make discrimination and fear prevalent among the people so that the Islamic religion would not be the best, which invites righteousness. God willing, these groups will not have a place among the people and I hope that we execute the prescribed penalty against them and get rid of them because they are working on the destruction of the religion, nothing more and nothing less. The most important issue is that they are distracting the minds of the young people and making them understand the changing meaning of the Islamic religion. They are determined to do their wishes and they are determined to have total control in terms of the Islamic religion. They are very militant in terms of the Islamic teachings.

  • امير خالد

    2012-5-11

    The governments must work hard in order to put an end to the crisis. That crisis caused major problems and I think that there should be a solution to that problem relating to religious issues. We must fight against extremism with everything we have in our hands in order to rid the Islamic religion of the problems and concerns that come to it. What is happening to the Arab States, including hard concerns, is the difficult circumstances they are going through that are enough. We want to rid the Arabs of all the outstanding issues with them and I want all of the clergy and all the scholars to expose the secrets of these radicals, and fight against them in every way in order to get rid of them forever. O Allah, my Lord, save your Islamic religion from everyone who is trying to sabotage the Islamic religion. O Allah, my Lord, Amen, O Lord of the universe.

  • Jeno

    2012-5-11

    Extremism is very dangerous and we should find a solution to such things. I think that extremism is important and that every Muslim should be thinking of it because the extremists are the ones who are discrediting the Islamic religion. I believe that the religious scholars of religion or religious leaders have to alert all the citizens of this matter because extremism is dangerous and those who manage it want to do acts of sabotage and acts of sedition among the Muslims.

  • عقيل

    2012-5-1

    The libraries are the best place to read, and the book is the best companion.