The courtyard of Fez's Al-Qarawiyyin mosque, April 14, 2016.
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Nestled in a labyrinth of streets in the heart of old Fez stands the world's oldest working library.As early writings from the Arabic-speaking world have come under increasing threat from extremists, the Qarawiyyin library is home to priceless treatises in Islamic studies, astronomy and medicine.Last year Daesh (ISIS) burned thousands of rare manuscripts at Iraq's Mosul library. The library as it appears today was built in the 14th century under Sultan Abu Inan, and completely restructured under King Mohammed V, the grandfather of Morocco's current monarch.The manuscript room is hidden behind two heavy metal doors and protected by an alarm system and surveillance cameras.One example is a treatise on medicine by philosopher and physician Ibn Tufayl from the 12th century.The library counted 30,000 manuscripts when it was founded under Abu Inan, says Jouane, but many were destroyed, stolen or plundered over the years.
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