Religious Extremism Burns Library in Lebanon
January 31, 2014
Vandals set fire to the Al Sa’eh Library in Tripoli, destroying an estimated 50,000 books. Father Ibrahim Surouj, the library’s owner and a Greek Orthodox priest, was mistakenly named as the author of an anti-Muslim pamphlet insulting the prophet Mohammed. The arson was believed to be retaliation. According to the Internal Security Forces' Brig. Imad Ayyoubi, “Father Surouj has nothing to do with the [pamphlet].” Investigators believe they know who perpetrated the attack but no names have been released. The Al Sa’eh Library was the second largest in Lebanon, founded by the Orthodox Youth Movement in the 1970s.
The citizens of Lebanon have rallied against this act. There were demonstrations, and volunteers are working to salvage the books and rebuild the library. The nonprofit organization, Logos, started a campaign for renovations, and plans are being laid down to restore surviving books. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said, “We denounce the burning of the library and reject harm being done to Tripoli and its people.” Surouj states that he is not interested in pursuing the attackers, saying, “That is for the security forces. The government brings them to justice, not me. I am only here to love them. I am here to carry them on my shoulders.”