A Blogger Wants To Help Write Mosul's Next Chapter By Rebuilding The Library ISIS Destroyed

"All languages and disciplines are welcome."

When ISIS took control ofMosul in 2014, one of the first buildings in the Iraqi city to be commandeered by militants was theUniversity of Mosul's library.According to BuzzFeed News, the militants first used the space to gather university professors and force them to rewrite textbooks for the new education system under the caliphate. They later burned down the library, and destroyed hundreds of thousands of books and manuscripts in the process. 

Now that Iraqi forces have taken taken back control of the once thriving city, one man is on a painstaking mission to rebuild the library one book at a time. That man is an anonymous blogger known as Mosul Eye, who graduated from the University of Mosul and was teaching there when ISIS seized his hometown. Despite fleeing Mosul in 2016, Mosul Eye has been chronicling life in the city under ISIS for the last three years, and is now ready to rebuild his home.



Mosul Eye says he had a special connection to the library, and hopes to restore it to its former glory. "Whenever I was in the university, I would spend most of my time at the library," he tells BuzzFeed. "When I didn't like my professors' lectures, I often went to the library to do research and study books on my own."

To rebuild, Mosul Eye has enlisted the world's help, asking others to donate whatever books they can. "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 (magazines, periodicals, newspapers, references, archives, and the like) in all disciplines of Knowledge and Science," Mosul Eye wrote in a June 2017 blog post. "ALL LANGUAGES AND DISCIPLINES ARE WELCOME," he added.

Though some 2,000 volumes from the library were preserved, including some rare books and manuscripts, there are many, many holes to fill in.

In addition to thousands of Arabic and English books, the library was once home to historic maps and periodicals from the Ottoman era, and ancient Islamic manuscripts, including a ninth-century Qur'an.

Thankfully donations have already begun to pour in, like some of the books from Baghdad, the country's capital, seen below. To help collect books the city organized street markets to sell books, which locals bought and donated towards replenishing the new library.

"People have been sending us books from Australia, from Europe, the United States — all on different subjects and in different languages," Mosul Eye tells BuzzFeed. 

He says about 10,000 books have been collected thus far, and the goal is to amass 200,000 books before reopening the library, hopefully sometime next year.

"Not a single day passes without our receiving new offers," the library's director, Mohammed Jassim, tells Al-Fanar Media. "Basra University was the first to offer its help. More recently we got an offer from Dijlah University College, a private university in Baghdad. This is a great symbol of Iraq's unity."




The new collection of books, the blogger hopes, will influence Mosul's next chapter.

"Voltaire said once, 'let's read and let's dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world'. This is how we will create the future of Mosul," Mosul Eye told The Independent.

Cover image via Eng. Bilal Izaddin / Shutterstock.com.

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