The Islamic State has continued its campaign of religious fascism in murdering thousands and “cleansing” areas for its view of the true Islamic faith. This process appears to include the burning of books in cities like Mosul, which once held a treasure trove of ancient texts including works dating back to 5000 BC. Some 2,000 books that range from children’s stories to poetry to historical texts were burned in front of residents who were told that such texts “promote infidelity and call for disobeying Allah. So they will be burned.”
It is all a part of the purification of areas, including the destruction of Sunni and Christian places of worship and libraries. A University of Mosul history professor said that IS has been systematic in targeting libraries, including a large Sunni Muslim library, the library of the 265-year-old Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers and the Mosul Museum Library. It appears that IS may be selling some of the books on the black market, however. The only thing more motivating for the Islamic State than a good cleansing is cold hard cash. Yet, Islamic State is believed to have been successful in its efforts to burn maps and books from the Ottoman Empire and book collections involving works that are centuries old.
As discussed earlier, the Islamic State has already destroyed ancient shrines including those of Seth, Jirjis and Jonah. Their destruction reminds many of the damage from the Mongols who threw ancient books into the Tigris River.
It is particularly telling that, like so many fascists and terrorists before them, Islamic State views education and books to be some of their greatest enemies. It is a movement that thrives on ignorance and feeding their followers with an exclusive mix of extreme Islamic teachings and pure unadulterated hate. They are now preparing to defend Mosul from an expected attack of coalition forces — a battle that could destroy what remains of the city and costs thousands of additional lives.
As an educator, I can only image the pain of faculty at the University of Mosul in watching the very foundation for learning in the ancient city destroyed by these violent and ignorant men. Academics universally believe that the nature progression of humanity is toward knowledge. Islamic State and its predecessors can only slow that progression. However, the loss of these ancient works is a terrible price to pay since they constitute the very foundational works of Islamic education and development.