Last Sunday, militant members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacked the Mosul Public Library in northern Iraq. According to a recent report by the Inquisitr, the library contained more than 8,000 manuscripts and artifacts, most of which were rare, old, and had incomparable historical value. Some of the contents of the library were books from the Ottoman Empire, books printed in Iraq’s first publishing house, manuscripts from the 18th century Mamluk Dynasty, and even antiques used and collected by ancient Arabic people.
The library was established in 1921, and since then scholars and community members have poured in decades of painstaking effort to sustain the historic library. In a single weekend, ISIS reduced all of the library’s priceless contents to ashes.
It is not the first time the ISIS has shown its derision for books. Just a few months before their most recent raid, members of the terrorist group reportedly destroyed another collection of manuscripts belonging to a separate library in Mosul.
While ISIS members obliterated philosophy, science, and other academic books — sparing nothing but texts pertaining to teachings of Islam — one jihadist was overheard saying, “These books promote infidelity and call for disobeying Allah so they will be burned.”
UNESCO has found ISIS’ abominable habit of destroying non-Islamic books that come across its path disturbing. In a statement released earlier this month, UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova explained why ISIS fervently campaigns against non-Islamic literature. She’s also issued a denouncement of the terrorist group’s book-burning rampage, describing it as a form of “cultural cleansing.”
“This destruction marks a new phase in the cultural cleansing perpetrated in regions controlled by armed extremists in Iraq. It adds to the systematic destruction of heritage and the persecution of minorities that seeks to wipe out the cultural diversity that is the soul of the Iraqi people,” wrote Bokova.
Bokova added, “Burning books is an attack on the culture, knowledge and memory, as we witnessed in Timbuktu recently, with the burning of the manuscripts at the Ahmed Baba Centre. Such violence is evidence of a fanatical project, targeting both human lives and intellectual creation. UNESCO was created 70 years ago to combat this type of violence, through education, science and culture, using the tools of dialogue and peace. Such destruction is a cruel reminder that the nations of the world must remain united to combat such fanaticism today.”
[Image from LearningLark/Flickr]