Agence France-Press (AFP), the international news agency, has syndicated a timely article about printers in Iraq. There are about 500 of them, and they are enjoying, according to the story, a boom in business connected with their country’s upcoming parliamentary elections on Sunday (March 7).
Campaign-related jobs are expected to net them $10 million, with about $6 million of that going to the 150 printing shops in Baghdad. One owner in the capital city is quoted as saying that electoral printing has brought him as much money in two weeks as he normally would earn in six months. Although the money is good, the pressure that stems from taking on these jobs is intense. Convoluted election rules have forced many political hopefuls to postpone placing their orders until the last minute, obliging the printers to sideline other jobs. And, as the story explains, the shops often find themselves up against cultural and religious constraints that would be unimaginable to printers outside their region of the world. The situation is better than during Iraq’s last parliamentary elections in 2005, when, according to the story, doing jobs for certain candidates could threaten a printer’s safety. On Sunday, voters in Iraq will choose 325 representatives, a prime minister, and a president. News reports say that as of March 4, 17 people have died in Baghdad in bombings aimed at disrupting the elections. (Editor’s note: this post isn’t the first time that Iraq’s printing industry has been mentioned in editorial by WhatTheyThink. In November of 2007, a post at PrintCEO noted attempts by the Iraqi government to shut down Dar Al-Nahrain, or “The House of Mesopotamia,” a large and well-known printing firm in Baghdad.)