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Books beyond borders: Chandigarh students to ship books to restock library in Iraq’s Mosul

The Mosul library was burnt down by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2014.

punjab Updated: Oct 30, 2017 13:59 IST
Amrit Saini
Amrit Saini
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Chandigarh students,ship books,Iraq
Samreen Chhabra, Parth Gupta and Avleen Kaur Lamba. (HT Photo)

In a unique initiative, Mukhtalif, the poetry society of MCM DAV College for Women, Sector 36, has joined hands with Parth Gupta, a student from Punjab University, to help restock a library in Mosul, Iraq, which was burnt down by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2014.

Co-founded by students of MCM-36, Samreen Chhabra, Gursahiba Gill and Avleen Kaur Lamba, Mukhtalif, along with Parth, is in the process of collecting book donations, with a target of at least 140 books, across different genres, to ship to Mosul.

Mosul Eye has collected over 800 books till date, receiving recognition across the world from eminent publications like The New Yorker, BBC News and The Independent.

Parth said that they had come up with this initiative after discovering an online blog ‘Mosul Eye’, which is run by an anonymous man, who claims to be a professor in the University of Mosul. The blog was setup when the claws of ISIS had caught Mosul in 2014, leading to destruction of educational institutions and libraries.

The anonymous blogger originally posted updates about the difficult life under the totalitarian ISIS rule. When Mosul was liberated from the terrorist organisation in July this year, the blog began advocating the campaign of ‘Let it be a book, rising from the ashes’ to ask for book donations to restock the library in the University of Mosul. It is believed the militants destroyed or looted well over 100,000 manuscripts during the occupation.

Mosul Eye has collected over 800 books till date, receiving recognition across the world from eminent publications like The New Yorker, BBC News and The Independent.

The Independent in United Kingdom has successfully established direct contact with the blogger, who refuses to reveal his identity. Quoting the blogger, The Independent wrote, “Controlling knowledge to reaffirm its grip on power, ISISaimed to ‘cleanse the libraries of all blasphemous literature and knowledge’, saying what would Shakespeare have to offer to the children of Iraq?”

Explaining the need for this undertaking, Samreen said, “The burning of books by the ISIS was a symbolic move to show that the students of Mosul did not need education apart from the Islamic laws. We, as students, can help redevelop education for the people in Mosul so they can think freely.”

Avleen shared, “Education is the backbone of any society and when attacked, these very roots are uprooted. The destruction of the library felt like a punch in my face, for how could something so pure be poisoned?”

Adding to it, Gursahiba specified, “The drive to change the world sometimes overpowers rationality but opportunities like these make us feel that we can make a difference.”

First Published: Oct 30, 2017 13:25 IST