“The torching of the library is [akin to] targeting the cultural image of the city,” Kabbara said on Saturday following a meeting of the Tripoli Declaration Committee.
The Future parliamentarian expressed March 14 officials’ and Tripoli figures’ solidarity with the owner of the library, Father Ibrahim Surouj, and stressed the importance of coexistence in Tripoli.
“Evil hands appear to be refusing to leave Tripoli alone to enjoy stability and evil minds want to accuse the city of terrorism in all possible means.” Kabbara said adding “March 14 condemns and deplores the attack that only indicates the immoral character of the perpetrators.”
Kabbra added: “Nothing stands in the way of implementing the Tripoli Declaration and we all stress on the necessity to end the spread of weapons because this has become a must to protect religious coexistence.”
Kabbara went on to urge President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam to expedite the formation of a cabinet “capable of protecting the people… and preserving coexistence.”
Similarly March 14 forces general-secretariat coordinator Fares Soueid condemned the incident from Tripoli:
” Tripoli remains the capital of the North and what happened to Father Ibrahim Surouj required that we all come here to say that there is a conspiracy and the city remains a place for religious coexistence.”
He added: “We are Lebanese people against any Christian, Sunni and Shiite extremism.”
The library is located in the historic heart of Tripoli, Lebanon’s second city and scene of frequent Syria-related violence pitting Sunnis against members of the minority Alawite community, to which Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad belongs.
Two-thirds of a historic collection of 80,000 books have gone up in smoke after the library was torched in Tripoli amid sectarian tensions. The blaze was started after a pamphlet insulting Islam was reportedly found inside a book.
Firefighters struggled to subdue the flames as the decades-old library went up in smoke on Friday in the Serail neighborhood of Tripoli. Despite firefighters’ best efforts, little of the trove of historic books and manuscripts was recovered from the wreckage.
“Two thirds of some 80,000 books and manuscripts housed there,” a security source told Agence France Press, referring to the items destroyed. The source added that the blaze was started after a manuscript insulting the Prophet Mohammed was found hidden in the pages of one of the library books.
A demonstration had been planned in Tripoli after the pamphlet was found but was reportedly called off after the library’s Greek Orthodox owner spoke with Muslim leaders. One of the library workers was reportedly shot and wounded Thursday night.
“The library owner, Father Ebrahim Surouj, met with Islamic leaders in Tripoli. It became clear the priest had nothing to do with the pamphlet, and a demonstration that had been planned in protest over the incident was called off,” the source said.
However, Ashraf Rifi, former head of the Internal Security Forces, told AP the attack had nothing to do with a pamphlet and was, in fact, triggered by speculation that Father Surouj had written a study on the internet that insulted Islam.
“This criminal act poses several questions [about] the party behind it that aims at damaging coexistence in the city and ruining its reputation,” Rifi told AFP. The Lebanese police have launched an investigation into the incident.
Sectarian tensions have been rising in Lebanon recently as a result of the ongoing, nearly three-year conflict in neighboring Syria. Until recently, the violence usually spared Christian minority groups. In December the northerly city of Tripoli saw a spate of attacks on the Alawite community in the latest spillover from Syria’s civil war.
Top Photo : A man inspects burnt books on January 4, 2014 in north Lebanon’s northern capital city of Tripoli a day after a decades-old library owned by a Greek Orthodox priest was torched after “a pamphlet was discovered inside one of the books that was insulting to Islam and the prophet Mohammad” said a source, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity. (AFP Photo)