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Book sellers in Baghdad's iconic al-Mutanabbi street under crackdown

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This is how al-Mutanabbi street looked like; a winding street filled with outdoor book-fair stalls. Poems and prose invaded its atmosphere until one day when Baghdad municipality raided the street and smashed all the book stalls with the support of military forces and without any prior warning.

The municipality instigated huge losses and the people expressed sadness because they were used to this heritage for many years.

"One day they came saying that they want to clean the streets. I told them that they should clean their mean minds and souls full of sectarianism and hatred," a resident said.

Baghdad municipality released a statement the following day saying that the campaign aims to remove violations from al-Mutanabbi street. The municipality is planning to turn al-Mutanabbi street into an animal market like Souk al-Ghazal. Booksellers would only be permitted to work on Fridays.

"If the story of the municipality that they want to enforce law and order on al-Mutanabbi Street is true, I think that there are plenty of violations in Baghdad, not just in this specific street. First, there are many violations in front of the current government, municipality and government institutions," a resident ssaid.

Without taking proper official measurements, the municipality of Baghdad raided al-Mutanabbi street, which is an unusual step that transgresses the routine and seemingly bureaucratic lifestyle. Those that champion al-Mutanabbi street say that this raid intends to provoke intellectuals and civilians who defy the authorities that clamp down on their freedom.