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Youth in Egypt Protect Libraries

Yesterday Bibliotheca Alexandrina director Ismail Serageldin wrote a short letter explaining that Egyptian youth were protecting the libraries as demonstrations swept through Cairo.

Here’s an excerpt: “The young people organized themselves into groups that directed traffic, protected neighborhoods and guarded public buildings of value such as the Egyptian Museum and the Library of Alexandria.  They are collaborating with the army.  This makeshift arrangement is in place until full public order returns. The library is safe thanks to Egypt’s youth, whether they be the staff of the Library or the representatives of the demonstrators, who are joining us in guarding the building from potential vandals and looters.”

The complete letter follows below. Libraries have suffered during historical conflicts, from the Iraq War to the infamous burning of Egypt’s Library of Alexandria.

Serageldin’s complete letter, via the library website.

“The world has witnessed an unprecedented popular action in the streets of Egypt.  Led by Egypt’s youth, with their justified demands for more freedom, more democracy, lower prices for necessities and more employment opportunities.  These youths demanded immediate and far-reaching changes. This was met by violent conflicts with the police, who were routed.  The army was called in and was welcomed by the demonstrators, but initially their presence was more symbolic than active.  Events deteriorated as lawless bands of thugs, and maybe agents provocateurs, appeared and looting began.  The young people organized themselves into groups that directed traffic, protected neighborhoods and guarded public buildings of value such as the Egyptian Museum and the Library of Alexandria.  They are collaborating with the army.  This makeshift arrangement is in place until full public order returns.

“The library is safe thanks to Egypt’s youth, whether they be the staff of the Library or the representatives of the demonstrators, who are joining us in guarding the building from potential vandals and looters.  I am there daily within the bounds of the curfew hours.   However, the Library will be closed to the public for the next few days until the curfew is lifted and events unfold towards an end to the lawlessness and a move towards the resolution of the political issues that triggered the demonstrations.” (Via National Geographic and Jennifer Howard)

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