How to stop Daesh from eradicating history? Iraq gets a digital library to preserve artifacts

Published August 5th, 2015 - 09:00 GMT

Iraq is working to digitize its national library in order to preserve thousands of years of knowledge from future threats, such as ISIS (Daesh).

Militants from the so-called Islamic State have set out to eradicate Iraq’s history and culture — posting numerous videos in recent months showing them destroying priceless artifacts.

Fighters have released footage showing them burning thousands of books and rare manuscripts in Mosul.

In the video, an ISIS fighter cites the example of the prophet Muhammad’s destruction of idols in Mecca as an example. He also condemns the Assyrians and Akkadians as polytheists, justifying destroying the artifacts and statues.

Last month, jihadis destroyed a 2,000-year-old lion statue outside the Syrian city of Palmyra’s museum.

ISIS has also been caught selling Syrian artifacts in London in order to raise money to fund their fight.

Artifacts looted by ISIS in Iraq and Syria have also shown up for sale on eBay.

But now Iraq is looking to preserve its heritage for future generations.

Jamal Abdel-Majeed Abdulkareem, acting director of Baghdad libraries and archives, told the AP news agency that the militants "want history to reflect their own views instead of the way it actually happened."

The Baghdad National Library also says sharing Iraqi art and literature is key to combatting terrorism.

"When an area is liberated,” Jamal told AP, “we send them books to replenish whatever was stolen or destroyed, but also, so that Iraqis in this area have access to these materials so they can always feel proud of their rich history."

The destruction of Iraq’s heritage is not confined to ISIS though.

Librarians and academics in Baghdad are working to preserve what’s left of the nation’s library, after thousands of documents were lost or damaged at the height of the US-led invasion.

The national Library, which was established by the British in 1920, was set on fire by arsonists at the start of the US-led occupation in 2003. According to AP, 25 percent of its books and around 60 percent of its archives were destroyed.

By Samuel Osborne

Copyright © Independent Print Limited

You may also like


Sign up to our newsletter for exclusive updates and enhanced content