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'Ancient Muslim and Christian texts' torched by radical Islamists in Lebanon

Al-Saeh Library torched after Islamists reportedly found anti-Mohammed pamphlet in one of the books
Al-Saeh Library torched after Islamists reportedly found anti-Mohammed pamphlet in one of the booksnaharnet.com

Up to 78,000 books, including "irreplaceable ancient Muslim and Christian texts and manuscripts," were torched in the Lebanese city of Tripoli, Jessica Elgot of the Huffington Post reported Sunday.

Elgot said that the Al-Saeh library in the Serali neighborhood was set on fire "after a local gang took objection to a sheet apparently insulting to the Prophet Mohammed, found hidden in the pages of one of the library books."

Initially, the curator of the library, Greek Orthodox priest Ibrahim Sarrouj, became the target of threats and a protest was planned, but was "called off after Sarrouj's pleas to Muslim leaders."

A news source in Lebanon, Naharnet, however, reported that the "former head of the Internal Security Forces," said the attack was actually "triggered by speculation that Father Surouj had written a study on the internet that insulted Islam."

This author opines that Father Surouj did not engage in sneaking a pamphlet in a book, or writing a blog demeaning to Islam. But what does it matter? The extremists in Beirut have already massacred "at least" twelve people in the last two weeks, as reported today at ABC News.

Naharnet continues to say that "Sectarian tensions have been rising in Lebanon recently as a result of the ongoing, nearly three-year conflict in neighboring Syria."

In addition to the burning the library, a library worker was shot and wounded on Thursday night.

A Lebanese nationalist and compelling blogger Elie Fares wrote about the destruction on his blog, A Separate State of Mind. He gave more insight into the priest who ran the library, saying that he has been "fighting to keep that place alive against contractors who worked to dismantle the building in which it resided."

His passion and frustration are evident, as he writes in part,

"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 [the burning of the library], 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."

The State Department issued a warning today to Americans in Lebanon, urging them "to avoid hotels, Western-style shopping malls, grocery stores and social events where U.S. citizens congregate, saying such sites are likely targets for terrorist attacks." as reported by ABC News.

Follow Renee Nal on Twitter @ReneeNal and Facebook.

Check out her news and political commentary on Liberty Unyielding, Gather and TavernKeepers.com for news you won't find in the mainstream media. Renee is also a guest blogger for the Shire Blog.