The Malta Independent 6 December 2023, Wednesday
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Ancient Qurans belonging to Libya mosques seized in Malta - report; Customs Department denies

Thursday, 23 October 2014, 18:25 Last update: about 10 years ago

Ancient Qurans were among other religious manuscripts thought to belong to historic Tripoli mosques attacked this month which were seized by Malta's Customs' officials, the Libya Herald reports.

But the Maltese Customs Department denied the report, saying it was not true that luggage with the artefacts was discovered in Malta.

The seizure, according to Libya Herald, came about after a suitcase was examined by Customs officials. 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, the Libya Herald said.

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, the Libya Herald reports.

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.

In a statement this morning, the Maltese Customs Department said after investigating the report, it confirmed that no such artefacts weremimported by air, sea or postal services.



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