In this week's New York Times Review of Books I ran across an article entitle "Diary of Saad Eskander, Director of the Iraq National Library and Archive". I clicked the link and found myself at a news article. Within the article was a link to the UK British Library.
This past November Mr. Eskander started sending periodic emails to the British Library keeping them updated his efforts and that of his staff to rebuild the National Library's collection. As I read these moving posts I felt I was getting a truer and more honest picture of what in actually happening in Iraq now. His simple, unglossed statements of the daily tragedies and dangers say more than any picture can convey on the major media outlets. And it was in one paragraph from his post of Dec. 23-28 that underscored for me the knowledge that there is hope for peace in Iraq.
Mr. Eskander wrote . . .It was a Christmas period and the security situation was as bad as ever. We have four Christians in our institution. The first two, 'A' and 'B', work in the Archive, the third, 'C', in the Library, and the fourth, 'D', in my office. I gave them a 5 day break to celebrate Christmas. 'D' took just one day off. She continued to show up, even when the main roads were blocked. I advised her to cover her hair, when passing through dangerous areas (i.e., under the control of the militias and armed gangs). She said that she (had been) wearing Hijab for some time to to hide her identity (i.e. being Christian).
I was moved by Mr. Eskander's caution in naming these individuals and I was impressed that Muslims and Christians were working harmoniously together for a common good, saving the Iraqi library and archives. These are the voices we need to hear louder and with greater strength. These brave people must somehow unify to become stronger than the insurgents and the sectarian violence tearing their country apart.
For more about this on-going diary, please click here.