Baghdad presses hum with sound of freedom (Zaid Sabah, 4/20/2006, USA TODAY)

In a back room at al-Shams printing house in Baghdad sits a clamoring German-built printing press, reverberating with the sound of a newfound independence.

“What has changed in the business is the freedom,” says Ameer Marouki, 50, who has operated the printing house since 1979. “Under Saddam, we were not able to print religious books, cleric’s posters and newspapers. Now we can print anything we want,” he says.

If anyone is capitalizing on freedom, it’s Iraq’s printers. Under Saddam Hussein’s regime, there were nine government-sponsored newspapers and four magazines in Iraq. Since then, at least 294 independent newspapers and magazines have been established in Iraq, according to the Pentagon.

But Sean Wilentz doesn’t take a Baghdad paper…

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