By Libya Herald Reporters.
Tripoli, 22 October 2014:
Ancient Qurans and other religious manuscripts thought to belong to historic Tripoli mosques attacked this . . .[restrict]month have just been intercepted by officials in Malta.
Little details have been given of the seizure which came after a suitcase was examined by customs. It is unclear if any passengers were detained on suspicion of smuggling the books. If confirmed as stolen volumes, the find will be further proof that the severe damage to Libya’s heritage is as much, if not more, about loot and plunder than it is about destroying architectural adornments that the attackers consider “haram”, forbidden by Islamic teaching.
After the sacking of the Karamanli Mosque and the Othman Pasha Madrassa earlier this month, UNESCO director general Irina Bokova warned: “ The looting and illicit trafficking of cultural objects can only deepen the wounds of the Libyan society struggling for normalcy and recovery”.
She also commended mosque officials and ordinary citizens who had sought to defend the buildings.
In fact locals are doing more than mounting guard over surviving monuments. It has since emerged that qualified experts are busy taking out mibars (pulpits) and other pieces of art from mosques in Tripoli’s old city and transporting them to places of safety.
According to Husam Bash Imam, Tripoli director of the Department for the Administration of Historical Cities, a team of restorers from the Department of Antiquities and technicians from his own organisation are carefully removing the precious artefacts, to limit further damage.
The Hassi anti-government has condemned the attacks and promised to protect surviving buildings.