Students in Mosul given ray of hope after university left in ruins
Until 2017, the Iraqi city of Mosul (among the largest in the country) had been under the control of the Islamic State since June 2014. In these years, IS wreaked destruction on the city, not least on the University of Mosul.
At the centre of the university stands what was once a great library—the biggest in Mosul, in fact—but is now ruins. IS adapted the library as their headquarters during their occupation of the city, meaning its walls - and, perhaps more worryingly, its contents; i.e. books—were greatly damaged by fires and bombs.
Robin Wright, a contributor for The New Yorker, visited the library (which once held 'a million books, historic maps, and old manuscripts') in June 2017, and described it as follows:
'A block-long building, charred black and its shell-strewn, inside and out, with splintered glass, burnt beams, heat-warped furniture, toppled shelves, and mounds of ashes. In December, as the Iraqi Army pushed into Mosul, ISIS fighters had set the library alight. The books had served as kindling.'
Mosul University in #Iraq was occupied by Islamic State group for nearly two years worst still kept open in a state of brutal terror. Now the institution is slowly rebuilding. #Mosul pic.twitter.com/GcOLe80nf0
— Fazle Chowdhury (@Faslec) November 21, 2018
Clearly, the incredibly important task of rebuilding this library is an immense one. Indeed, Ms. Wright has commented that 'it’s one thing to erect four walls to rebuild shattered homes; it’s another to re-create institutions.'
Already though, vast improvements have been made. Men and women are again learning side-by-side at the university, and organisations—as well as other institutions—around the world have offered a helping hand in the redevelopment of the library where possible.
Earlier this year, 3,000 books were shipped to Mosul. A second shipment is now being prepared.
Many locals and students have dedicated their efforts to the recreation of the library, which previously lay at the heart of Mosul and was 'the centre of learning for the whole city'.
As such, Ashraf Riadh Al-Allaf, a senior lecturer in the university's English department, has said 'the culture of the university is slowly resurfacing.'
— Spyros Litsas (@Spyros_Litsas) November 21, 2018