World Bulletin/News Desk
The National Police Department's anti-smuggling and organized crime unit has opened an investigation into handwritten historical manuscripts that were stolen in Syria and smuggled into Turkey to be sold on the black market.
Two smugglers were recently detained in Ankara as a result of a tip received by police. Efforts are ongoing to capture the other smugglers and seize the manuscripts. According to police reports, some of the stolen manuscripts were initially smuggled into several southern provinces, including Hatay, Kilis and Şanlıurfa, and then sold in big cities such as İstanbul, İzmir and Ankara.
The manuscripts include handwritten Qurans and other religious books that were being stored at historic mosques and libraries in Syria before the civil war broke out there. When the clashes between the Syrian regime and opposition forces started, many mosques and libraries were destroyed and thieves plundered the precious manuscripts that had been displayed in them. Some of the manuscripts were then smuggled to other countries, including Turkey, to be sold.
Among the stolen manuscripts are documents from the Umayyad, Abbasid, Seljuk and Ottoman eras. They are mostly in Arabic, Ottoman Turkish and Aramaic.
Earlier this week, acting on a tip forwarded to the National Police Department, the anti-smuggling and organized crime unit launched an operation in the Turkish capital to capture two men who were believed to be smuggling goods into Turkey from Syria. The two men were taken into custody. Their interrogation by prosecutors is ongoing. Among the seized goods the two men had been trying to sell are paintings and handwritten manuscripts.
According to the police, the smugglers either steal the manuscripts from mosques and libraries in Syria themselves or purchase them at low prices to sell for up to $100,000 in other countries. Police sources also said some smugglers purchase weapons and explosives with the money they earn from the sale of the manuscripts and then sell the weapons in Syria.Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Mayıs 2013, 17:52