Inside the intellectual hub where Baghdad’s spirit thrives

Arwa Ibrahim at Al Jazeera:

It is Friday afternoon and a lively and diverse crowd starts to gather under a blazing August sun on the banks of the Tigris River, just metres away from al-Mutanabi Street, the Iraqi capital’s historic bookselling centre.

For several years now, al-Qishla, an Ottoman military barracks-turned-cultural-hub in the heart of Baghdad, has become a space where intellectuals, poets and artists come together to exchange ideas and discuss current affairs.

Regular attendees say al-Qishla provides residents with a safe avenue to share views freely, as well as a sliver of hope that Baghdad – once a major international intellectual and cultural hub – may return to a shadow of its former self before successive wars gripping the country for decades, left it in decay.

More here.