by adam rasmi in


Charred books in Tripoli's Al-Saeh library. (Courtesy Hussein Malla/AP) 

Charred books in Tripoli's Al-Saeh library. (Courtesy Hussein Malla/AP) 

DAYS after a fire wreaked havoc on Tripoli’s largest library, much of it is already restored. Shelf after shelf holds books neatly wrapped in plastic to protect them from the humidity. Residents from the northern Lebanese city gather in the backyard eagerly discussing the library’s reconstruction.

On January 3rd, Tripoli’s Al-Saeh library was set aflame, purportedly by Salafists, fundamentalist Muslims, after rumours circulated accusing Father Ibrahim Sarrouj, a Greek Orthodox priest and the library’s founder, of writing a pamphlet insulting Islam. Among other things, the article was alleged to say that Abu Bakr, Islam’s first caliph, the leader of the Muslim community after Muhammad’s death, once beat the prophet’s wife Aisha with a newspaper.

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