Ancient manuscripts in Iraq saved from ISIL

Ancient manuscripts in Iraq saved from ISIL

When the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) was trying to carve out its own caliphate four years ago, its members destroyed thousands of Christian and Muslim relics and monuments.

But Dominican friar Najeeb Michaeel managed to pack some rare manuscripts and 16th-century books and smuggle them out of ISIL battlegrounds.

With the help of other Dominican priests, he moved them to Erbil’s Oriental Manuscript Digitisation Centre.

Father Najeeb is now training helpers, who will ensure digital copies are preserved for posterity, and the originals returned to their owners.

Al Jazeera’s Paul Chaderjian reports.