Looting fears grow as Iraqi national library seized by troopsBreaking News
Saad Eskander, a respected Kurdish historian who has run the library since 2003, told the Guardian that up to 20 Iraqi troops had seized the building at gunpoint yesterday, threatening staff and guards.
"They have turned our national archive into a military target," he said. "Tomorrow or the day after, the extremists will attack the Iraqi forces there."
He said the soldiers, who said they had occupied the building to defend Shia worshippers heading to the shrine of Khadimiya, about 15 miles away, had positioned themselves on the roof of the library. They had already started to dismantle the main gate, and had smashed doors and windows inside the main building, he said.
He fears soldiers may start looting the building "or even set fire to it".
Like Iraq's national museum, the library and archive was badly damaged in the chaos that gripped Baghdad following the collapse of Saddam's regime. Large parts were gutted by arsonists, and pillaged by looters. More seriously, the library estimated it lost 25% of its collections, including many rare books, while the archive lost 60% of its collections, including irreplaceable records from the Ottoman era. Since then, Mr Eskander and his team have rebuilt the library and archive, winning respect around the world. He has also kept a blog detailing his daily travails and the plight of his city. It can be read on the British Library website.
comments powered by Disqus
- Miami’s Watergate mystery man at heart of newly revealed CIA report
- The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age
- ‘No Vacancies’ for Blacks: How Donald Trump Got His Start, and Was First Accused of Bias
- New Yorker profiles activist who's drawing attention to lynchings
- Wisconsin GOP senator wants to replace history professors with Ken Burns videos
- OAH President Nancy Cott says the Library of Congress is being politicized
- NYT publishes historians' plea for the revival of political history
- Some Ohio University professors ditch the textbooks, and the prices
- Renowned Israeli Holocaust Historian: ‘If I Were a British Jew, I’d Be Worried’
- Heather Ann Thompson pries loose the long-kept secrets of Attica in her new book