Father Ibrahim Sarrouj shows the burnt books at his library in Tripoli, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014. (The Daily Star/Stringer)
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About a third of the precious tomes of Al-Saeh Library, a mainstay of this embattled northern city, were lost in a fire in early January, torched by extremists after a rumor that its grandfatherly owner, Father Ibrahim Sarrouj, had material that was insulting to the Prophet Mohammad.Father Sarrouj was at a nearby monastery the day his library and bookshop was put to the torch.Sarrouj, a Greek Orthodox priest who is originally from Syria, says he does not want retribution for the burning of his books.Sarrouj says he is still sifting through boxes of burned and damaged books to determine which of them can be salvaged and what needs to be thrown out.On Jan. 2, gunmen attacked a poverty-stricken man who took refuge at Sarrouj's library.Sarrouj says the library has 85,167 book titles, a large number of which are made up of several volumes.Sarrouj expressed gratitude at the eruption of civil society support.Sarrouj debates the philosophical meaning behind algebra with a patron as he stands alongside 21 boxes of books delivered from Antonine University, in a hangar provided rent-free by his neighbor to store some of the books in the meantime.Sarrouj is even more adamant that he will never leave his home in Tripoli.
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