25.09.2018 |

Baghdad National Library - Baghdad

After Baghdad was captured in 2003, many libraries in Baghdad were deliberately set on fire one after another. Amongst those libraries were the National Library, the Quran Library under the Presidency of Religious Affairs, the al-Mustansiriya University Library, the Fine Arts Faculty Library, and the National Archive. The concurrent occurrence of the fires, burning of the books collected in certain places, usage of chemicals during the fires, and the occurrence of the first fire after a week suggest that the libraries were deliberately set on fire in an attempt to destroy them. At that time, not only the libraries in Baghdad, but also the history of humanity was also intended to be burned down.

It was not the first incident that happened in Baghdad and its libraries. After capturing Baghdad, the Mongolian Emperor Hulagu Khan destroyed all the literary works in Baghdad Library, one of the largest libraries in the world at the time, by throwing them into the Tigris River.

Founded in 1920, the Baghdad National Library had many books, magazines, newspapers, microfilms, maps, photographs, and many official and unofficial documents dating back to the Ottoman period. The most important works and resources related to the modern history of Iraq and its political, social and cultural life were found in this library.

The fire destroyed at least 25% of the books in the library, 60% of the archives and the whole map and photography archives.

In the period between the two fires, some of the books and documents were saved after they were transferred to the nearby mosques or safe zones such as Najaf.


Baghdad National Archives

It was on the second floor of the National Library. After the fire, there remained ashes and molten furniture as evidence of the terrible emerging heat.

Foundation Library

There were a few things that survived the fire other than the walls. 40% of the documents in the library, of which 90% were books, were destroyed. The library had invaluable works such as a large collection of Quran, many religious works and thousands of manuscripts.

Bayt al-Hikma Library (House of Wisdom)

After being hit during the bombing, the library was then burned down and looted. There were British and French government documents, documents belonging to the Jewish community in Baghdad, as well as valuable and rare works such as the manuscripts of Ibn Sina and Maqamat of al-Hariri in the library. Some of the looted works were sold in bookstores.

Library of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad

There were more than 70,000 works in the library. The largest and best art collection in Iraq was found in this library. There were many works on fine arts, theater, design, ancient and modern history and literature. The library was looted and burned down, leaving only white dust behind.

Al-Mutanabbi Street

This street, one of the oldest streets in Baghdad, was famous for its bookstores and outdoor bookstalls. Being the book center of Iraq, it used to be known as the meeting point of booklovers. When the street was bombed, libraries, in which such worthy works as Al Asiriye and Al Nahda existed, and many bookstores were destroyed.