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Kashmir: Blaze destroys Islamic scripts - Gulf Daily News

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  • Zafar Khan
    Blaze destroys Islamic scripts http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=86069&Sn=WORL&IssueID=27108 SRINAGAR: Kashmir s oldest school burned down
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 6, 2004
      Blaze destroys Islamic scripts


      SRINAGAR: Kashmir's oldest school burned down
      yesterday in a suspected arson attack that sparked
      emotional street protests over an institution that has
      educated the region's most prominent and influential
      people for generations.

      Also lost in the blaze was one of the world's oldest
      copies of the Quran.

      The Islamia Higher Secondary School, a 105-year-old
      brick and wood structure with high arched windows and
      ceilings of cedar logs, was gutted in the fire that
      broke out early yesterday in the centre of Srinagar,
      senior police officer Javed Ahmad said.

      "We suspect mischief. It doesn't seem to be an
      accident," Ahmad said.

      The school housed one of the oldest and rarest
      libraries on Islam, with some 30,000 books, including
      one of the rarest manuscripts of the Quran,
      handwritten by Usman bin Affan - the third "Righteous
      Caliph" of Islam.

      The library was completely destroyed.

      News of the fire sent shockwaves through the city, and
      people went out into the streets and shut down shops
      in an emotional outpouring. Hundreds of the school's
      students staged a protest march.

      "I am in shock. I can't believe it," said Mohammed
      Hussain, who lives next to the school. "Soon after
      dawn, the fire started in the left wing of the
      building. Within minutes, before I could blink an eye,
      it had spread all over."

      The school, which has some 2,500 students, was built
      in 1899 and is run by Anjuman-e-Nusrat-ul Islam
      (Society for the Victory of Islam), a religious and
      educational trust headed by Umar Farooq, the chief
      Muslim cleric in Kashmir.

      Farooq is also a top leader of the All Parties
      Hurriyat Conference (APHC), a political separatist
      grouping in Kashmir. The Hurriyat called an emergency
      meeting after the fire, and Farooq's party, the Awami
      Action Committee, called for a general strike today.

      Farooq, a moderate, has been targetted in recent
      months by suspected armed Islamic groups. Farooq's
      uncle, Mushtaq Ahmed, was shot while saying prayers at
      a mosque on May 29 and died of his wounds a week

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