On Friday night, a historic bookshop in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli was burned, destroying thousands or perhaps tens of thousands of books and manuscripts. Today, salvage efforts have begun:
Although several news outlets were quoting an AFP report that “a pamphlet was discovered inside one of the books at the library that was insulting to Islam and the prophet Mohammad,” there was no apparent claim of responsibility and numerous denunciations.
According to NaharNet, this wasn’t the first time the place was targeted. The day before, “Bashir Hazzouri, an employee at the library, was shot and wounded on Thursday in the old souks of Tripoli.”
The library is run by the Greek Orthodox priest Father Ibrahim Srouj, and is apparently the largest in Tripoli and second-largest in Lebanon. According to library supporter Natheer Halawani, “The library has over 80,000 titles, not copies. The total amount of books exceeds this figure by far.”
According to Blog Baladi, Al Saâeh Library was founded in 1970 by the Orthodox Youth movement and consisted of a single room. Now, it has more than 80,000 books, of which 400 are rare.
Numerous book-lovers expressed sorrow and dismay:
Much like with Cairo’s Institut dâEgypte, now the difficult work of preserving books and manuscripts begins.
Photos and commentary on A Separate State of Mind: Lebanon Loses 78000 Books To Terrorism: Tripoliâs âAl Saâehâ Library Burned
LBC: Rifi to LBCI: Tripoli will rebuild al-Saeh LibraryÂ
Photos and commentary from Natheer Halawani’s Dusty Window blog: The Tourist That Shall Never LeaveÂ
Daily Star: History Library Torched in N. LebanonÂ