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The spirit returns to Mosul’s libraries after their destruction by ISIS in Iraq

Mosul (AFP) 02/10/2022 13:56

Mosul…The Central Library is preparing to receive readers again

  • Mosul has always been known for its library of rare books that have been preserved for hundreds of years
  • The four-storey library has been restored with elegant dark glass facades
  • Technical Director of the University Library: 85 percent of the contents of the library, which was established in 1967, have been damaged

Preparing the central library of the university conductor, One of the largest Iraqi universities, to receive readers again and supply them with various books, after it was subjected to burning and destruction during the battles to expel ISIS from the city.

Mosul has long been known for its library of rare books that have been preserved for hundreds of years. However, during the ISIS occupation of the city in northern Iraq between 2014 and 2017, the organization prevented residents from reading literature that contradicts them.

With his extremist ideas under penalty of punishment.

During those years, I ate fire fires The elements of the organization set it on fire by thousands of books in law, literature, science and philosophy, while selling the valuable and rare ones in the city Black market.

The technical director of the university library, Muhammad Yunus, recalls the status of the library: “When we arrived, we saw that the books had been lowered from the shelves to the floor, burning.”

Iraq
Muhammad Yunus, – Technical Director of the University Library

Despite the incalculable losses, this will return the central Library It reopened its doors at the end of February, after great efforts and the support of one of the United Nations organizations.

The library, which extends over four floors, with elegant dark glass facades, was restored to include, in a first stage, 32,000 books, in addition to other books that can be accessed electronically. It is expected to eventually contain about one million books.

“In the past, we had more than a million books, some of which are rare and not found in any other university in Iraq,” says Younes, who is in his fifties.

He points out that 85 percent of the contents of the library, which was founded in 1967, were damaged, and “we were only able to save the anecdotes department, the treasury, and a small part of foreign literature.”

To compensate for the lost books, “international and Arab universities donated huge numbers of books” in order “to make the Central Library rise again,” according to Younes, who also refers to other donations from “prominent personalities from Mosul and the whole of Iraq from their personal libraries.”

“Mother of the Book”

The library has taken, during the recent period, a narrow alternative position within the Faculty of Engineering at the same university.

The yellow shelves seemed heavy with books piled all over the place, some placed inside boxes and others stacked on tables.

Tariq Attia, 34, who was a student at the University of Mosul before preparing his master’s thesis in Arabic language sciences at the University of Tikrit, went to search for books in the universities of Kirkuk and Mosul.

This researcher says, “I noticed a difference in the library from the past when it was referred to as Banana,” adding, “Mosul University is the mother of the book. There is a big difference between what was the situation” before and after ISIS occupied the city. But he acknowledges that there has been a “return”.

shy” to normal.

Mosul was among the most important historical cities in Iraq, and was known for its cultural and intellectual richness and its society, which included an aristocracy, merchants and prominent businessmen.

With donations from prominent families in Mosul, local production in this city where the first printing press was opened in Iraq in the mid-19th century, and cultural exchange, Mosul became a major commercial center in the East.

The Middle East for many years has been home to a large number of rare and ancient works, including religious books.

Besides the Mosul University library, there is the Awqaf Library, which housed manuscripts that are 300 or 400 years old, but “all of them have disappeared,” according to library official Ahmed Abd Ahmed.

Mosul
A view of the city of Mosul

daily visits

Among the cultural centers in Mosul, the historic Al-Nujaifi Street was teeming with bookstores, but traces of destruction still exist there, as well as the ruins left by the battles to expel ISIS from the city.

Piles of rubble still lie in abandoned shops under the arches of old buildings, waiting to be removed.

Only a few shops reopened their doors after their owners paid the costs of the restoration work, including the seventy Osama al-Karakji, who sells religious books, notebooks and pens in the library that he inherited from his father.

In addition, there is the Mosul Central Library, which was reopened after restoration works at the end of 2019. It is a public institution established in 1921 that contained 121,000 books, including books and magazines, some of which date back about a hundred years, according to

Its director is Jamal Al-Abed Rabbo.

“We lost 2,350 books in various disciplines, such as literature, sociology and religion,” says Al-Abed Rabbo, while looking at the shelves of his library, where old books were spread, some of them covered with leather and frayed papers.

However, the number of publications in it has returned to 132,000 now, after buying books and receiving others as gifts from government institutions and city residents. “Some of our visitors come every day to read for an hour or two,” he added.

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