A couple of months back we told you about the efforts to rebuild the library at the University of Mosul, which was destroyed by ISIS militants after they took hold of the city.
The campaign was spearheaded by the anonymous blogger extraordinaire, Mosul Eye, who used his online platform to call for book donations. Before ISIS were driven out of the city, they had razed the actual library building and burned almost all of its 200,000 books.
As of May, over 10,000 books had been donated from all corners of the globe. A huge number of volunteers have also worked tirelessly to salvage the library.
Earlier this month, the rejuvenation of the library reached another important milestone: an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people attended a book festival at the site. In order to attend the event, people had to bring at least one book to donate to the new collection.
Judging by the below photo, it looks like the festival was a huge success:
First & biggest post IS reading festival was held on Mosul Univ Campus. 7000 books were gifted to the crowds & 6000 to the demolished Lib.? pic.twitter.com/5vzI9DyJ1b
— Ali Y. Al-Baroodi (@AliBaroodi) September 6, 2017
Local photographer Ali ِAl-Baroodi, who once taught at the university and tweeted the above snap, played a huge role in Mosul Eye’s campaign to save the library. Speaking to ABC, he said the festival, a mixture of readings, music and poetry, was proof of the Iraqi people’s refusal to be cowed by ISIS as well as their hope for the future.
‘We expected a couple hundred people, but it was a big surprise to find no less than 3,000 to 4,000 people. We couldn’t count because the audience was so huge,’ Al-Baroodi said.
‘People are so hopeful despite all the odds, despite all the hard circumstances. In the beginning we didn’t have water, we didn’t have electricity. We had to dig for water to use well water.’
Al-Baroodi said it was the biggest event to be held at the university since ISIS were driven out of Mosul. The festival itself was called ‘From the Ashes the Book was Born’, a sentiment reflected in the emotions of Al-Baroodi:
‘In fact I felt speechless because nobody at all, nothing in the whole world expected this city to come from the ashes in this way.’
It’s extremely uplifting to see the people of the city slowly rebuild their home after the horrors of ISIS. To hear that the community is focusing their efforts on reviving such an important institute of knowledge and learning suggests a bright future is within reach for Mosul.