More than 8,000 rare books and manuscripts – including books printed in the 19th century in Iraq’s first printing house – have been burned by Islamic State militants in Mosul, despite pleas from the public.
Mosul Public Library’s director Ghanim al-Ta’an said Isis militants then demolished the building using explosive devices.
“People tried to prevent the terrorist group elements from burning the library, but failed,” a local source told.
“What a pity! We used to go to the library in the 1970s. It was one of the greatest landmarks of Mosul. I still remember the special pieces of paper where the books’ names were listed alphabetically,” said Akil Kata who left Mosul to exile years ago.
First estimates put the number of books burned at around 8,000. Fresh reports, however, says as many as 112,709 manuscripts and books, “some of which were registered on a UNESCO rarities list” have been lost, reports the Independent, quoting a library official.
Other reports say some of the manuscripts destroyed date back 800 years, adding that other libraries faced a similar faith in areas held by the terror group, which has also been staging public book burnings.
Mosul resident Rayan al-Hadidi said a mood of sorrow and anger had overtaken the capital. “I cry today over our situation,” the activist and a blogger told The Fiscal Times. Today the library’sofficial website was down.
While reports on the attack on the Mosul Library have just made the headlines, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says attacks on libraries, museums and universities have been going on for several months. On February 3, it voiced “its alarm over the reported destruction of thousands of books in museums, libraries and universities across Mosul.”
UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova described the destruction as “a new phase in the cultural cleansing perpetrated in regions controlled by armed extremists in Iraq.”
isis destroys mosul library and thousands of books in iraq. this is like the us invasion all over again. pic.twitter.com/q7BuBfmKQt
— Don't Talk To Me (@SubMedina) February 24, 2015