TRIPOLI, Lebanon – It took Father Ibrahim Surouj around half an hour to enter his bookstore on Tuesday morning. The recent fire didn’t prevent his entry. The stream of well-wishers did. “Abouna! [Our father],” person after person shouted upon seeing Surouj as he walked down a narrow street and turned into an even narrower alleyway toward the entrance to his Saeh bookshop. Each new visitor prompted Surouj to stop in the street and exchange pleasantries.


Seemingly unfazed by the January 3 fire that damaged Tripoli’s largest bookstore, Surouj was all smiles, handshakes, and cheek kisses. The shop itself smelled of fire and decades-old books. Aside from smoke damage and an obviously charred, wooden front door, the shop seemed to have suffered little during the fire. [Link]