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The New Arab

Iraq anime fans flock to Baghdad convention

Japanese animation has long been popular in the Middle East [Facebook]

Date of publication: 10 February, 2018

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Anime fanatics in war-torn Iraq have flocked to the country's annual festival celebrating Japanese animation and comic book culture.

Anime fans in war-torn Iraq have flocked to the country's annual festival celebrating Japanese animation and comic book culture.

Thousands of Iraqis turned up on Friday for the Otaku Matsuri convention in the capital Baghdad dressed up as their favourite anime characters, local media reported.

Social media page From Baghdad posted dozens of images of cosplayers at the annual event.

Local news site al-Sura reported that attendees were able to raise funds to finance next year's convention.

The Japanese embassy in Iraq - which set up a stand at the event - thanked the anime fans for their colourful costumes.

"All of your cosplay were just amazing. We hope to see you again at another event soon," the embassy said on Facebook.

Iraq is still reeling from the rise of the Islamic State group and the punishing fightback it took to crush the jihadists, with swathes of its territory in ruins and millions of people displaced.

In December, the Iraqi government announced the "end of the war" against IS despite extremist elements still being active in parts of the country. Shia militias have also enforced a conservative public code in areas under their control.

Japanese animation has long been popular in the Middle East with many dubbed programmes aired on local television since the 1970s.

Shows such as Captain Tsubasa - known in the region as Captain Majid - and Grendizer have become part of Arab youth pop culture.

Last year, Saudi Arabia held its first Comic-Con pop culture festival, drawing in thousands of young people to the rare mixed-gender event.

Some conservative social media users condemned the event as "sinful and evil".

Last November, an armed religious militia arrested the organisers of a comic festival in Libya for "acts of indecency against public morals".

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