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Khalid Mohammed / AP

The fight to protect Iraq’s history

Iraqi librarians and academics are rushing to digitalize century-old books and documents contained in Baghdad National Library, it was reported by the Associated Press yesterday.

Employees are fighting to preserve what is left of Iraq’s ancient culture after the destruction caused by the US-led invasion and the recent rise of ISIS.

The battle to protect Iraq’s historic documents has increased in momentum following several reports of Islamic State raiding buildings to seek precious documents to destroy or loot.

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ISIS occupied Mosul and ransacked its library in February of this year, burning thousands of books and manuscripts. It has also been reported that the militant group raise money for weapons by flogging precious Iraqi and Syrian artefacts online.

Now, librarians are persevering to fight militancy with art and literature, in a bid to protect Iraq from falling to the threat of terrorism. The Baghdad National Library recently donated books to ISIS occupied areas, to “replenish whatever was stolen or destroyed”, but also to alert its citizens to their country’s rich history and inspire nationalism.

Library workers are also in the process of restoring damaged books and artifacts that have been ravaged by years of war. In 2003, archives dating from the 1970’s were destroyed by US military troops during a series of fires. The Iraq museum was also destroyed, and reopened this year.

By Trudie Carter

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