Farhad Hakimzadeh, an Iranian scholar and head of the UK’s Iran Heritage Foundation which he formed in 1995, has admitted to defacing at least 150 books in the British Library. He used a scapel to cut leaves for the books from the library’s collection charting the history of European travel in the Middle East and China. Hakimzadeh could have been vandalising books from as far back as 1998.
The Iran Heritage Foundation was set up to ‘promote and preserve the history, languages and culture of Iran’. Dr Kristian Jensen, the head of the library’s early printed collections said ‘Hakimzadeh is eminently characteristic of our traditional groups of readers: he has a profound knowledge of the field. From my point of view, that makes it worse because he actually knew the importance of what he was damaging. What he did was use the cover of serious scholarly purpose to steal historic pieces and abuse our trust’.
This has been going on for 10 years and somebody only just picked up on this? The article didn’t state whether Hakimzadeh gave any reason for the mutilation but as someone in charge of preserving culture, what on earth was he thinking? Is there a black market out there for pages of ancient manuscripts? Apparently when police searched his home, they found some of the valuable pages hidden amongst copies of the less valuable editions that he owned. Does he believe the manuscripts belong to Iran not the UK?

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