On Friday, Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist movement, cautioned against repeating what he deemed a “ceremony that goes against norms.” He was referring to the Iraq International Festival, which took place in the celebration square within Baghdad’s Green Zone and was attended by cultural and artistic figures from Iraq and the Arab world.
Al-Sadr warned Islamic countries about the dangers of increasing openness and promoting liberalization. He expressed concern that such practices could lead to normalization and the spread of homosexuality, citing an incident in Iraq that violated societal norms in the Arab and Islamic world under the Bani Abbas state.
He stated that he believes the Iraqi people are pure and have a desire to reject corruption and anomalies. He expressed confidence that if such parties continue, the people will unite in their rejection of excessive liberalization and the promotion of normalization and queer society.
On Thursday, Arif Al-Saadi, the Prime Minister’s Advisor for Cultural Affairs, issued a clarification about the Iraq International Festival, which caused controversy.
According to a statement received by Al-Saadi, they were reported that Shatha Hassoun requested to hold a festival honoring Arab and Iraqi artists, which was supported by the Prime Minister and Ministry of Culture. However, due to the request being submitted by a private company, the artist still needed financial support. Instead, the permission was limited to providing the venue for the festival and handling logistics for guest arrivals and departures.”
He mentioned that the government had no involvement in the artistic organization or the selection of honorees for the festival. Despite this, the festival boasted esteemed names such as Habib Ghuloum, Jamal Suleiman, Walid Tawfiq, Jawad Al-Shakarji, Awatif Naeem, Abdel Sattar Al-Basri, Alaa Hussein, Iyad Radi, Ali Fadel, and others, which added to its value. These respected individuals were honored in a dignified and joyful manner and spoke eloquently about Baghdad’s recovery through art, poetry, and peace.
Al-Saadi noted that only respected artists and the high-quality jury, which included the head of the Artists Syndicate, Jabbar Joudi, Dr. Shatha Salem, and others, were honored.
The Sudanese advisor acknowledged that there were several inappropriate elements present during the festival, including blockers and funstats.
Al-Saadi denied that the government was responsible for the chaos that ensued, questioning whether it was their duty to search women at the party entrance or dictate fashion guidelines. He expressed concern that any attempt to regulate such matters would only result in further insult, while canceling the festival altogether would draw unfavorable comparisons to the conservative city of Kandahar.
He stated that the festival was initially scheduled for September 29th, and invitations were sent out accordingly. However, due to the tragic events in Al-Hamdaniya and Iraq’s period of mourning, the festival was postponed until October 3rd, coinciding with National Day. As a result, the festival did not commemorate National Day but rather was observed on a rescheduled date.
Al-Saadi commented on the recent drop campaign, which he described as blackmail. He stated that they cannot be silenced with money and revealed that one of the artists currently living in Egypt was involved. Al-Saadi also expressed disappointment in those who claim to be involved in art and culture but resort to blackmail and insults for financial gain.