• France's news in English

Paris auction withdraws sale of Napoleon's Quran

AFP/The Local · 6 Jun 2013, 13:38

Published: 06 Jun 2013 13:38 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A French auction house has withdrawn from sale a Quran manuscript that was taken from Cairo during Napoleon's Egyptian campaign at the end of the 18th century.

Auctioneers Osenat said they had decided not to proceed with the sale in light of strong opposition in Egypt and representations from Cairo's embassy in Paris.

"We are aware of the feelings that the proposed sale has provoked in Egypt and after friendly exchanges with the embassy, we decided to withdraw the manuscript from this weekend's sale," company director Jean-Pierre Osenat said.

"It is a decision we took independently," he added, insisting that the auction house had not been subject to any kind of threat.

The 47-page manuscript of the opening suras, or chapters, of the Islamic holy book was taken from the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo by a Middle Eastern specialist who accompanied Napoleon on his Egyptian campaign.

Egypt's ambassador to France, Mohamed Moustafa Kamal, thanked Osenat for his understanding.

"The withdrawal of the said manuscript from the auction scheduled for June 9th reflects a great understanding of the very high moral and cultural value of this manuscript," the ambassador wrote in a letter to the auction house.

Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798 triggered a revolt in Cairo and the Al-Azhar mosque was the rebels' headquarters.

Story continues below…

The French general ordered the revolt to be crushed and, during the ensuing attack on the mosque, the manuscript was saved from being destroyed by fire by Jean-Joseph Marcel, an orientalist who had accompanied Napoleon.

The manuscript now belongs to a private collector and Osenat admitted he did not yet know what would become of it.

"We will have to think about it," he said.

AFP/The Local (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

UK to spend €40 million on securing Calais border
Photo: AFP

Britain spending big on security in Calais.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available