CAIRO: The Scientific Complex’s administrative board along with the security authorities notified the Interpol about books and manuscripts that were stolen amid attempts to salvage them from the fire that engulfed the complex, according to Mohamed El-Sharnoby, general secretary of the Complex.
"They were notified to stop all purchases of the stolen books and to regard this as a crime," he said pointing out that the seal of the complex is on all the books that it housed.
The Scientific complex caught fire on Dec. 17 amid clashes between protesters and the armed forces.
El-Sharnoby added that he formed a committee to receive a number of books retrieved at Cairo’s South Court as well as a number of books retrieved by police.
"Unfortunately, the perpetrators infiltrated the volunteers who saved the books from the blaze as we didn’t have the chance or the mechanism to sort them out or to check all volunteers," he said.
El-Sharnoby added that some manuscripts were left on the pavement in front of the American University in Cairo (AUC) until they were loaded in cars to be delivered to Dar El-Kotob to be restored.
Major General Hamdy Badin, head of the military police, had said in a brief phone-in on Al-Hayat TV channel that one of the vehicles that carried the salvaged books has been stolen.
El-Sharnoby called on the general prosecutor Monday to investigate the fire.
The general secretary and the administrative board thanked in a statement Egypt’s youth for their participation in saving the books from the fire and accused foreign hands of burning the heart of Egypt’s scientists.
"We filed a complaint at the general prosecutor to expose the criminals and announce the results of the investigation publicly and transparently," El-Sharnoby said in a press conference at Beit El-Senary, the complex’s old headquarters.
El-Sharnoby said he couldn’t yet estimate the number of books that have not been affected severely by the fire, explaining that there is still a large number of books under the wreckage of the complex.
El-Sharnoby added that around 100 volunteers from Egypt and abroad are working 24 hours a day at Dar El-Kotob to restore the books, pointing out that the restoration process may take a very long time with some estimates citing 10 years.
In addition, he assured that the renovation of the complex is ongoing in collaboration with the armed forces and that they are in constant contact with local and global institutions to collect copies of the manuscripts that were lost in the fire.
The administrative board of the complex decided to allocate Bet El-Senary, a historic site at Sayeda Zeinab, as a temporary headquarters for the complex to gather and preserve the sound manuscripts, and hold the scientific lectures and seminars that were held in the complex.
"The geographic institution will also receive visitors and attendees of these lectures monthly starting from the last Monday of February," El-Sharnoby said.
The board decided to open a special bank account to accept donations for rebuilding the complex and buying copies of the manuscripts and maps that were lost in the fire, he added.
El-Sharnoby stated that Ibrahim Badran was elected head of the scientific complex, to succeed the late Mahmoud Hafez who died Friday at 99 years, while Ismail Serag El-Din was elected as vice head.