August 11, 2017

Positivity: This priest preserves Iraqi culture found in historic manuscripts

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Rome:

Aug 9, 2017 / 03:04 am

As Iraq and surrounding areas face the destruction of many of the region’s archaeological treasures, one priest and his fellow Dominicans are preserving the area’s history and culture through an archive of Christian and other religious manuscripts.

“First, we save them (the manuscripts) physically, materially. We bring them to safety and bring them with us at the peril of our lives, of course. But, we also electronically copy them and number them and by doing this, the book or manuscript becomes immortal,” Fr. Najeeb Michaeel told CNA.

“In reality, I did not save this history just because I am a Christian. I saved this because I am human and everything that is human interests me, like the lives of human beings and of a human being become much more valuable when he has roots.”

Fr. Najeeb Michaeel is a Dominican friar and priest from Iraq. In 1990 he created the Center for the Digitization of Eastern Manuscripts to help digitize documents and archives of letters, paintings, and photos.

Since 2007 Fr. Najeeb and those who help him have moved and protected manuscripts from likely destruction at the hands of Islamist extremists. So far, the group has digitally preserved more than 8,000 previously unpublished manuscripts, dating from the 10th to the 19th centuries.

“Culture and civilization were born here and today it is a bath of blood and the destruction is almost complete and total, but even with all of this we keep the hope for a better future,” Fr. Najeeb said.

The question today is why we do not work to protect these villages, and to keep these things from destruction, he asked, and urged people to try to influence their governments to protect these historical places.

This collection of manuscripts “presents a small selection to say to the world, here are our roots, you need to help us, you need to help protect us. We do not have the right, as an international community, to sell arms to kill one another and not at the same time promote culture and the rights of man.”

Since 1750 the many manuscripts had been kept in the library of the Dominican monastery in Mosul. They were moved from the monastery starting in 2007, amid the backdrop of increased violence against Christians and other minorities at the hands of extremist groups. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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