Wednesday, 8 October 2008
Yesterday I read a piece of news from a Libyan website which was disturbing; it was about the missing of Islamic artefacts which got stolen in a day light from the Islamic Museum in Sidi Khalifa Street, Tripoli. These antiquities are gone and they would end up somewhere outside Libya and land into hands of the highest bidder, and these kind of customised robberies are very common worldwide but in Libya it started to show its ugly side recently with the slack of the securities round the border or the lack of it that resulted into the growing numbers of the organised crimes which deals with any priceless historic items be it Islamic, Roman, or Phoenician, you name it, and not to mention the involvement of some dishonest border officers in assisting these criminals in doing their crimes with great ease.
My recent summer visit to Libya gave me the chance to see some of the treasures that we have and we always take it for granted, and in one of my visits to The National Museum in Tripoli and while I was admiring what’s inside it, I noticed how slack the security is inside the Museum, the only effort that was made was to ask anyone with a bag to hand it over to an attendant and she would give you a key for the locker so you could retrieve it back before you leave the building, but while I was walking round and enjoy our ancient and modern history, I found that the majority of these invaluable pieces of antiquities are all exposed to the public for them to touch by hands or even hug if need to be, like someone who did just that in my own presence so he could take a picture with it, there are no boundaries round it to give it any kind of protection like ropes or even encased a glass box, this caused some of these statues and artefacts to get dirty and even might cause them to fall over and get damaged but what worse is to be taken away without the knowledge of anyone especially in a quiet afternoon,and then smuggled out and sold abroad!
Where are the security staffs I hear you say? The only member of staffs that I encountered in that building , were sitting on comfy worn out leather seats facing each other and having a big chat about nothing and getting paid for it! And if any member of the public dared to ask any query they just point them at the direction to nowhere or just give them a puzzling answer and then they continue back to their chit chatting affair.
I didn’t see any closed circuit TV that monitors the place and some articles are scattered round on the floor and next to it some bottles with chemicals in a complete mess. This happening not just in that Museum, even in our magnificent Roman Ruins, where you could actually walk over a priceless mosaic tiles and damage them with your own hard shoes without you realizing it , these tiles should be fenced to prevent anyone from damaging them or even stealing them.
The artefacts Authority in Libya not doing a good job, in protecting our history and heritage from vandalism or from the forty thieves ( in this case hundreds of thieves ) who are mushrooming every day, anyone in authority who could do something about these crimes should act now before it’s too late, a nation with no past would have no future.