Seda Babel (Echo of Babylon), first published in 1909 in Baghdad, was among Iraq’s earliest newspapers. It appeared weekly on Friday. Until the end of World War I, Iraq was part of the Ottoman Empire and was subject to Ottoman law. In 1908, in line with the liberalizing revolution of the Young Turks, imperial press regulation loosened, allowing Iraq’s intellectuals and writers the freedom to publish newspapers, magazines, and books. Seda Babel was one of more than a dozen newspapers to appear as a result, and part of a trend that spread throughout the empire. Although the newspaper was owned and operated by two literary personalities from the Chaldean Christian community, its content was of general interest and had no specifically Christian orientation. In this sense it was similar to Al-Zaura, a newspaper published in Baghdad between 1869 and 1917. According to the masthead, Seda Babel aimed to cover “political, literary, and commercial news in service of the nation’s progress.” The articles and commentary adhered to this mission. The paper was not radically political and was intended to inform rather than persuade. Editor-in-chief (mudir) Yusuf Ghanimah was an amateur historian. Da’ud Sliwa, the publisher (sahib al-imtiaz), was a teacher and poet who during World War I was exiled from Iraq for his political writing.
Editor: Ghanīmah, Yūsuf Rizq Allāh, 1885-1950
Place: Middle East and North Africa; Iraq
Institution: Iraqi National Library and Archives
Physical description: 4 pages ; 28 x 40 centimeters