Man Is Rebuilding The Library Destroyed By ISIS In Mosul—But He Needs Your Books

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

When ISIS took control of Mosul, a major city in Iraq, in 2014, one of the first places that was targeted was the University of Mosul. The extremist group burnt down many of the buildings as an act of terror, but allowed some to remain standing for their personal use. The labs were used to construct I.E.D.s and basic chemical weapons and the libraries were used as a meeting place before they were destroyed.

Though they expected it, the people of Iraq were heartbroken when ISIS looted and burnt down the central library on campus in early 2015. Approximately 100,000 books and manuscripts were lost forever in the group’s attempt to “cleanse the libraries of all blasphemous literature and knowledge,” said anonymous blogger Mosul Eye.

The blogger reportedly fled Mosul soon after ISIS took over, but still reports on what’s happening in the city, even as ISIS was occupying and destroying it. He remains anonymous for security reasons, but he recently made a call to action in the wake of the ending of the caliphate.

Credit: Ahmed Jadallah

When ISIS was pushed out of Mosul several months ago by the Iraqi Army, they used that last opportunity to loot and burn down the remaining library in an attempt to hurt the Iraqi people even more. Despite the long wars in the last forty years, several dictators, and an extremist rampage, the Iraqi people take great pride in literature and owning a well-stocked home library is a sign of class throughout the nation. By burning these books, some of which were rare manuscripts or copies from the ninth century and listed on Unesco’s rarities list, ISIS truly hit home in their destruction. For Mosul Eye, this destruction hurt more than anything and he is determined to rebuild the library now that ISIS’ reign is over.

“Manuscripts that document the most important and critical phase of the history of modern Mosul may not be ever recovered. There will always be a black hole in the history of Mosul and Iraq as a result,” he said.

“The university’s central library was my second home. It used to house a wealth of rare publications and unique manuscripts that were available nowhere else.”

Credit: Ahmed Jadallah

The blogger points out that rebuilding the library as fast as possible is central to rebuilding morale, reconnecting Mosul to the rest of the world, encouraging previous residents to return, and eliminating fear of ISIS by reading endlessly.

“Because rebuilding the libraries and filling them back with books is one of the most significant forms of rebuilding Mosul civilly, we launch this international campaign to collect books and all types of printed products,” Mosul Eye said.

Mosul Eye intends to gather 200,000 donated books in all languages so that they are ready to put on shelves once the library is rebuilt. He’s calling on people from around the world to donate what they can, and he noted that they are specifically looking for books on science, medicine, and the humanities. If you live in the U.S., you can contact the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project, who is working to cover the shipping costs for books. If you live in Europe, Entraide et Coopération en Méditerranée has pledged to also send a shipping container of materials.

The blogger also has his sights set on building an opera house and a school for music and performing arts to culturally revive the city and Iraq as a country. Without culture, a locale is simply a place on the map, and Mosul Eye hopes that this campaign can contribute to the rebirth of his city.

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