MEMRI has a fascinating piece about the ongoing Iraqi cultural revival.

The fall of the Saddam regime in April 2003 has brought with it unprecedented cultural vitality, despite an environment affected by constant acts of violence and terrorism, often directed against those who want to lead Iraq out of the dark tunnel of the past. Indeed, and ironically, it is partially the chaotic climate associated with weak or absent state institutions that has permitted the unprecedented freedom of cultural and artistic creativity. Although many writers, thinkers, novelists, artists and intellectuals fled or were forced into exile during the Saddam regime, many remained. Now, after years of being kept silent, the varied political, nationalist, and ethnic groups, are able, finally, to express themselves without restrictions or censorship but, regrettably, not entirely without fear.

Today, Christian writer Yohanna Daniel says: "We are at a new stage loaded, at least in theory, with good intentions and liberalizing and humane ideas." For despite the violence and the lack of security, "the cultural class" has flung open its doors to those who were, in the past, forbidden or afraid to enter. Without exaggeration, Daniel says, Iraq occupies a position second only to venerable Egypt in terms of the number of newspapers, journals, magazines, radio and TV stations, both public and private - and, in fact, Iraq is freer than Egypt in many respects.

The pieces continues in great detail about modern Iraqi poetry, periodicals, journals, news, and everything else you can imagine. Just another invaluable fringe benefit of freedom, bought dearly by individual soldiers and civilians who gave their lives but incredibly cheaply by historical standards.

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