How One Resident of the Ravaged City of Mosul Is Working to Rebuild its Once Lauded Library

Flags of the Iraqi Liberation Army
Flags of the Iraqi Liberation Army | © Mahmoud Hosseini / Wikicommons

Books and Digest Editor

An anonymous historian and blogger has launched an initiative to restore the collection of the once renowned bibliotheca.

In 2014, the Iraqi city of Mosul, once a thriving urban center, was occupied by the forces of ISIS who enacted a pogrom of cultural cleansing, laying havoc to institutions of significant cultural heritage. Among its targets was the central library at the University of Mosul, which housed an archive of UNESCO-registered rare manuscripts, some dating back centuries, all of which were burned.

Now, on the verge of liberation by the Iraqi military, one former University faculty member has initiated a campaign to build back its library.

According to the Independent, the anonymous blogger of “Mosul Eye,” a site dedicated to documenting daily life under occupation, has issued an open call for literature: “Mosul’s many libraries used to house the most precious and valuable manuscripts and rare prints in the region,” he writes, “and its libraries used to be the destination for anyone looking for those treasures. And in a devastating assault on the humanity heritage in Mosul, ISIL devastated Mosul’s libraries…by stealing, destroying and burning those treasures, under different excuses. Once as “useless science”, another as “Illegitimate science”, and last but not least, “blasphemous books”!

The blogger is seeking donations of any books or periodicals from any discipline and language. “We will work on collecting them,” he writes, “categorizing them, and preparing them” to restore the library.

The Independent has noted that a few hundred books have been shipped to the given address from the French port of Marseille to the Iraqi port city of Basra. Aid is also coming from a group called Solidarity and Cooperation in the Mediterranean, which has pledged to ship 20 tonnes worth of books.

You can learn more about donating here.

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