Lebanon Loses 78000 Books To Terrorism: Tripoli’s “Al Sa’eh” Library Burned


2014 is off to a horrible start in Lebanon. The explosion that took place in Beirut yesterday, in the year’s first few days, has been paralleled by another act of terrorism in Lebanon’s northern capital, where extremist gunmen torched the city’s biggest library, Lebanon’s second, burning it to the ground.

They accused the priest running the library, a man who has been fighting to keep that place alive against contractors who worked to dismantle the building in which it resided, of publishing an article that offends Islam. I guess offenses are in the eye of the beholder. In this case, the eyes are for illiterate people who can’t read and who don’t know the value of a book.

This is the supposed article in question:

Srour article

The country is burning, let’s not worry about a library. A lot of people might say that. But the library in question was a true national treasure, containing 78000 books, many of which exist in very few copies and many of which are, ironically, books about Islam. I’m also sure the library contained Qurans. Father Ibrahim Sarrouj, the library’s curator, has lived in Tripoli all his life and is known to being an encompassing person of the city’s diversity.


Tripoli cannot sit out the ongoing tragedies blowing through Lebanon lately. We just lost 78,000 books. We have lost many innocent lives as well over the past few days. And for the sake of what? Wars that we have nothing to do with, being fought over our territory, by people who have gone through a few cycles of brain washing in order to get them to believe that killing innocent people whose lives are well ahead of them or burning down a library will bring them favors with their own version of god and prophet.

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 12.39.57 AM

Then you have those who believe that the actions of those gunmen reflect what the people of Tripoli believe in and who proclaim things as such to the ears that would listen. The fact of the matter is, however, is that the people of Tripoli are more afraid of those gunmen than we are. They are more afraid of the havoc they are bringing to their city than we are. They are more worried about the repercussions of their actions on the fabrics of their society than we give them credit for. They are wary of how their city has changed in such few days. They are terrified of the cultural demise that their home city is witnessing. They care about these books, the library and the priest who ran it. They are people who are worthy of having such a library to their name. They are the people whose city just lost its biggest library and who are gathering around its remnants crying their eyes out at how things turned out for the place they call home: a pile of rubble of a place that was once great.

I’m not Muslim but I’m more Muslim than the lunatics who torched that library and so are most of the people of Tripoli that many Lebanese love to dismiss so easily.

Tonight, I have been robbed of being able to visit such a place again and again by men who know no religion, no god and no alphabet. Tonight, the entire country was robbed of a wealth of knowledge that we had probably taken for granted. Who ever thought a library would be targeted in a terrorist attack?

Tonight, I’m livid and you should be. It’s not just about books. It’s about living in a place where two explosions taking place within a week, followed by such an act, are now considered normal. It’s about living in a place where you’re expected to move on from everything like it was nothing because that’s the only way forward. It’s about living in a place where you’re forced to forget about the lives lost, the books burned and the cities ruined just because it’s what we do.

Tonight, my thoughts go to Tripoli, the city that I miss and to its people that I hold dear. May they rebuild the library, restock its shelves with what they can and get rid of their streets of the infestation springing out and about. I try to be optimistic because that’s the only thing I can try to do. Tonight has been a sad night indeed.

70 thoughts on “Lebanon Loses 78000 Books To Terrorism: Tripoli’s “Al Sa’eh” Library Burned

  1. Honestly I have no idea how to write any sort of comments on a story like this. These books’ worth cannot be described or valued. Some idiot decided he had some vendetta and mission and destroyed in a matter of seconds a place that his own children some day would’ve wished to be at.
    We have no heritage left, we’re losing our identities, we’re becoming labeled not only by our religions but worse by our sects. We follow so called leaders who are doing nothing but take us like sheep to a slaughterhouse.
    This story today has been my tipping point. I have no idea why I should stay here. I hear stories by my parents who left this country so they can ensure us with a better future. I can’t find any more reason for me to stay here a day further. I have no idea what I will tell my children and future generations about this country. We’re leaving them with nothing.
    I am beyond disgusted and outraged, but unfortunately, nothing will restore this treasure that was this library and the books it had. And that honestly makes me sick.

      • My feeling Michele!What to we have to hope for anymore, when this country we have lived in, somehow against all odds, is left to be lead by ignorance,fanaticism and brutal
        I cannot but remember the beautifully written ‘When I decided to become a Lebanese Expat’back in June 24,2013.
        So terribly sad!

    • Never was leaving ones country a solution to the problem. A country is not a “JOB” we leave if we dislike it, and just come back to profit out of its generosity. A country is built brick by brick in times of duress as well as in time of happiness. We should not leave the country to the underdeveloped amongst us ( sure then the country will not see better days for our children), we have the duty to stay, educate and promote better relationship amongst the country’s entire components. Please do not leave. Lebanon, and the Arab world is in need of each one of us.

        • Michelle, i regret to inform you that i respect your opinion, HOWEVER, i am proud to inform you that it is still a country and still a nation. no fanatics nor quitters will change the real identity of Lebanon. Go quit on someone else’s country. thank you

        • You told Michelle “Go quit on someone else’s country. thank you”

          I hope you realize the irony of those words said to a person who wants to leave the country….

          Just read it again and think about it.

        • I can’t reply on the post above but let me explain something to you. The situation is bigger and larger than the country. The entire area is being redivided and not you or me or anyone else has control over it. The people who do are the people who we voted for, and these people are the ones falling into this plan.
          Your nation is where you belong. I don’t feel like I belong here not as a woman who in case marries a foreigner won’t give the nationality to her children, not as a person where my sect is what labels me, and not as a Lebanese because let me tell you something: I lived abroad all my life and when I had the choice, I chose to come and live here. And what have i seen so far? Not a single thing that made me feel like I belong, like this is my country. I understand your reaction but this is how I’m feeling and unfortunately going to the se7a waving a Lebanese flag (like I’ve done so many times before, failing two semesters in the process) hasn’t done anything to change that.
          Nationalism is an identity but we’re not Lebanese here, we’re Maronites, Sunnis, Chiites, Lebanese Forces, Hezbollah, FPM, and the list goes on…
          “Proud to be Lebanese” 3al 3alan, “Kes ekht hal balad” bel mekhfe.

    • I’m sorry for your hardships and your loss. It’s nice to be proud of your heritage, but I know it can be hard when people are doing things like destroying the evidence (books) of the great things people in your country have done. I hope you find some peace, whether your leave or stay. I hope this action wakes people up to the horror of destroying lives and property- of the horror of violence. There are few things more precious than libraries, after all.

  2. Arab stupidity knows no borders, we are our own worst enemy.. We will cut our nose to spite our face…. Wake up people

    • It is not because some are stupid and illiterate that we have to brand an entire people as stupid. I know this is irreparable vandalism, but all nations passed by this stage in previous times. The perpetrators still live in the dark ages.

      • How can you blame Israel, America or UK for Lebanese terrorists burning a Lebanese library? That is pure stupidity, you are merely making excuses for bad actors and trying to pass the buck. Shame on you.

  3. It has begun. Muslim moderates are too weak to stop the Muslim extremists. The government is too weak to protect it’s citizens. Lebanese Christians must start taking up arms before they face the same fate as the Christians in Syria.

    • Are you a real Christian? I don’t think so / ” I you think you are the sons of Abraham you should have made the acts of Abraham but you are the sons of Evil the father of the lie” that what said Jesus to the Jews / and what I will say to you dear brother ” If you are really the son of the Christ you must do as the Christ said ” and I will continue saying the same thing Jesus said to St Peter before the Holy Spirit has come into him ” Go away from me you Satan, these are not the thoughts of GOD” / bcz if you are a true believer you should have trust the world of Jesus ” And the doors of hell won’t stand in front of my Church” These are the words of our Lord in the Holy Gospel. And in addition to them he said ” A slave is not better than his Lord, they will persecute you as they did to me, so when they will in a town go to another and they will judge you exactly as they did to me but do not be afraid cause than the Holy Ghost will speak instead of you” so a true Christian have the persecution as a must bcz the master of this world is Satan but you are not from this world. So if we weren’t soooo good in the eye of God we wouldn’t get persecuted on Earth the home of Satan. So you are not allowed to speak like this in the name of Christianity. Therefore when Satan and his army will try to defeat the Church than the Jesus will come on Earth as he promised his disciples will the whole Glory as a King not as a child. no more. So there are two way: one if you believe the other if you don’t bcz Jesus said ” If you are not praying to God you are praying to Satan; if you are not collecting for God you are wasting” so I’ll continue if you are thinking this way you are not a true believer in God neither the Holy Trinity neither the Holy Mary conceived without sin. (PS: all the paraphrases from the Holy Gospel are from the Vulgate which is used as the only immaculate gospel and is used by the Holy Church in its teachings both Catholic and Orthodox )

    • And in addition if you are with the arming of Christians that means that you do not trust God and you consider him unfaithful and falling down from his words that’s simply what you said!!!!!!! Go get armed with faith and prays and tears when the stop persecuting us bcz we would be no longer real Catholics nor Orthodox

      • Islamic terrorism strikes once again. Lebanon is no longer the country it used to be. I suggest you all leave this ratchet country. Living with Muslims is not possible. This might sound harsh but the evidence supports my conclusion.

    • As much as you are right Paul, there is still a better way to defend oneself against this kind of barbarism. Education and more education, not brainwashing. For sure, arms are not the solution, but openness to the other is the real challenge

    • Back to square one!!!!Won’t you ever learn Paul?Do you think ‘taking arms’ will solve anything?Almost 20 years of civil war,thousands of deaths and misery….and we are all still suffering from the lack of so many basic things!You want to play Rambo,why don’t you go and give a hand somewhere else!

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  5. Well… in the thing written in Arabic, it says that he hit 3a2icha with a newspaper… I doubt that there was newspapers back then and in the room… i thought he hit her with the ipad lol or hmm ma laptop

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  9. Good reporting, but your title says “infamous” which is a word that means “spectacularly bad” – you meant “famous.”

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  11. Do not tar those of us who are atheists with the label ‘illiterate, uncivilized, book-burner’, you bigot. The book-burners often profess a belief in one.

    • I think you missed the intended insult to the perpetrators there. Author wasn’t bashing atheism but was saying the ppl who burned the library in the name of Islam are not representative of Islam in spirit or act. In that way, they are “men who know no religion, no god and no alphabet.”

      tl;dr: Keep your fedora on.

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  13. As a muslim, i find the article quite offensive. However, regardless of whether the priest wrote it or not, burning the library is in no way a solution. Those ignorant fools did more harm than good. If they consider themselves proper muslims they would have known that Islam also preaches education and seeking knowledge.
    I wish i had known about this library earlier, i would have loved to pay it a visit.
    Nothing is safe in this country, not even the priceless books. What a pity !

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  15. I didn’t watch the vid nor do I know any more detail about this incident other than reading this article, but who’s to say that the contractors he’s been fighting off for a long time didn’t burn it down and framed Muslim extremists? How do we know that any of these news stations brings us accurate news, maybe opinion over fact, or that these series of events that are happening in lebanon that we read about into detail is to just throw us off from the bigger picture? I mean, there’s no government for a reason, not really because they’re incompetent but maybe because they’re forced to step aside. There are many many possibilities, its necessary to think outside the box. Lebanese problems can definitely be traced back to an international circle of idiotic leaders who fight over power, and poor lebnan is stuck in the middle. My condolences go to the stacks of knowledge that were taken away from us and never be able to attain again.

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  23. Reblogged this on Whispers of Satan and commented:
    “’m not Muslim but I’m more Muslim than the lunatics who torched that library”

    And he is sure damn right. It reminds me of a quote by Muhammad Abduh:

    “I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam”

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