The Iraqi military, with the help of the United States-led coalition, has laid siege to the historic city of Mosul since October of 2016. The city is battered and beaten, but certainly not dead. 

Just yesterday Iraqi forces repelled an Islamic State counter-offensive and continue to push into the heart of the old city. The focus is already pivoting to life after the Islamic State. A social media effort was sparked by one anonymous blogger to help rebuild the library ransacked and destroyed by members of the Islamic State in June of 2014.

The British Broadcasting Company profile his efforts. Writing:

The project is being led by an anonymous blogger, who found fame writing about life under IS on the site Mosul Eye for the past three years.

The blogger, who describes himself as an independent historian, is calling for donations of books and other printed material in all languages and from all disciplines under the slogan: “Let it be a book, rising from the ashes.”-The Mosul Eye

If you follow The Mosul Eye on social media you will see a rollercoaster of human emotions. On one hand, the city he knows very well is being destroyed and on the other it is being freed from the grips of Islamic Fascists. His focus post-liberation is on books and education. His message is simple people need books:

Mosul’s many libraries used to be housing the most precious and valuable manuscripts and rare prints in the region, and its libraries used to be the destination for anyone who’s looking for those treasures. And in a devastating assault on the humanity heritage in Mosul, ISIL devastated Mosul’s libraries, among the devastation it inflicted on the city, wrecking those libraries by stealing, destroying and burning those treasures, under different excuses. Once as “useless science”, another as “Illegitimate science”, and last but not least, “blasphemous books”!

And because rebuilding the libraries and filling them back with books is one of the most significant forms of rebuilding Mosul civilly, we launch this international campaign to collect books and all types of printed products (magazines, periodicals, newspapers, references, archives, and the like) in all disciplines of Knowledge and Science, and IN ALL LANGUAGES .. ALL LANGUAGES AND DISCIPLINES ARE WELCOME.

Destroying books and history in general is unthinkable. It is one of the things we vilify the Nazis for to this very day. It lays the ground for ignorance to thrive. And as unpopular as it is to say, extremism grows where extremism thrives. Kids in Mosul haven’t been to a decent school in almost 3 years.

In the hopes of never having to send Americans back there to do the same job all over again, perhaps American communities can help with The Mosul Eye’s campaign. It isn’t money he is asking for but old books. This doesn’t require a slick public relations campaign or celebrity endorsements; this requires organization and a little elbow grease. This is a job for PTA groups, Sunday Schools, book clubs, and local libraries who have too many books in storage.

For anyone interested in finding ways to help, more information can be found here. Most Americans would much rather send books than bombs but sometimes, unfortunately, both are required.