UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova today expressed alarm over reports of the massive destruction of books in the museums, libraries and universities of Mosul, Iraq.
“This destruction marks a new phase in the cultural cleansing perpetrated in regions controlled by armed extremists in Iraq,” said the Director-General. “It adds to the systematic destruction of heritage and the persecution of minorities that seeks to wipe out the cultural diversity that is the soul of the Iraqi people.”
According to numerous media reports, thousands of books on philosophy, law, science and poetry have been deliberately burned over the past several weeks. If confirmed, this would be one of the most devastating acts of destruction of library collections in human history.
“Burning books is an attack on the culture, knowledge and memory, as we witnessed in Timbuctoo recently, with the burning of the manuscripts at the Ahmed Baba Centre. Such violence is evidence of a fanatical project, targeting both human lives and intellectual creation. UNESCO was created 70 years ago to combat this type of violence, through education, science and culture, using the tools of dialogue and peace. Such destruction is a cruel reminder that the nations of the world must remain united to combat such fanaticism today,” the Director-General added.
Over the past several months UNESCO has been taking stock of and condemning the cultural cleansing perpetrated by armed extremists in Iraq, that targets cultural heritage, cultural and religious minorities, and the documents and written evidence of one of the oldest civilizations in human history.