Human chain protects the Library of Alexandria: A report from “the most intelligent man in Egypt”


Hey, now this is cool.

The first great Library of Alexandria was destroyed in successive stages, finally and definitively sacked by the Arabs in 642 A.D.  But the heirs of the rebuilt library are determined that it will not fall a second time.

He's smart.

Earlier this week, Bibliotheca Alexandrina director Ismail Serageldin — who has been called “the most intelligent man in Egypt” — reported that as violence in Egypt escalated, Egyptians surrounded the newly rebuilt Library of Alexandria to protect it from looters, joining hands to form a human chain.  He wrote:  “The demonstrations were large and peaceful, and at prayer times, people prayed in front of the library.”  The  video is here.  And we wrote about Serageldin and the library, with its fascinating history, when he visited Stanford in December 2009 —  here.

In an earlier message posted on the library’s website, Serageldin wrote:

“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.”

Ismail Serageldin
Librarian of Alexandria
Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Hey, any chance Serageldin could take over the government of Egypt?


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    […] included those of demonstrators protecting the Library of Alexandria from looters by forming a human chain around it. This particularly struck a chord with us as the Library is one of the partners in the […]