‘Celebratory’ Events Curtailed at Cairo International Book Fair; Damage at National Library

Despite grief and anger over the deaths resulting from four bombings around the city, the third day of the Cairo International Book Fair was still packed with fair-goers. The bombings have resulted in at least five deaths, dozens of injuries, and severe damage to the Islamic Art Museum, where volunteers and staff are trying to rescue important artifacts before the ceilings collapse. Meanwhile, organizers announced that while the book fair wouldn’t close, any celebratory events would be postponed:

Photo credit: Egyptian Streets: http://egyptianstreets.com
From the Islamic Art Museum. Photo credit: Egyptian Streets: http://egyptianstreets.com

Also, according to Ahram Online, the car bomb that gutted Cairo’s central police headquarters early Friday morning caused  structural damage to Egypt’s National Library and Archives, which is across the street from the apparently targeted building.

Ahram Online reported:

Minister of Culture Saber Arab told Ahram Online that all the NLA’s lighting and ventilation systems were completely destroyed, while the decorative facade, representative of Islamic architectural styles, had collapsed. He added that all showcases and furniture inside the building had also been badly damaged.

NLA head Abdul Nasser Hassan told Ahram Online that seven unique manuscripts and three rare scientific papyri had also been damaged.

Dozens have been injured in the four blasts, the first of which — at central Cairo police headquarters — was followed by smaller explosions in Dokki, Talbiya, and Haram.

Iman R. Abdulfattah, one of the contributors to  The Illustrated Guide to the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairosaid on Facebook:

I want to clarify that the images circulating on social media are of the interior of the National Library and not the Museum of Islamic Art (as far as I saw, no one was allowed inside the Museum but the police and inventorying committee comprised of staff members). While the two institutions share the same building, the Museum (Ministry of Antiquities) is accessed from Port Said Street, the street of the blast, and the National Library (Ministry of Culture) from around the corner on Muhammad Ali Street. This may seem like a trivial bit of information at the moment, but is important to consider because Museum and Library are institutions that are now under the management of two different government ministries/bureaucracies. Secondly, I cannot really speak about the damage to the National Library (I didn’t bother to go around the corner), but had access to the Museum because of my previous work there. Without exaggeration, the damage is really indescribable: unfortunately, many of the glass window panes were shattered as a result of the blast, including some of those on the side facade, that facing the Museum Garden; and the adjacent annex that was built to create space for the administrative offices after the renovation was also damaged, as was the main entrance of the Museum. There are also several potmarks on the main facade (built in 1904).

Despite rumors to the contrary, Ahmed Megahed, head of the General Egyptian Book Organization, which runs the Cairo International Book Fair, went on television to say that the fair would not close. He invited all Cairenes to come down to the fair.

Security at the book fair has been much increased this year, as fair-goers have noted:



According to the Egyptian Health Ministry, a further four people have been killed in clashes nationwide.

Those interested in helping out at the Islamic Art Museum should contact @monznomad.