First Published: 2012-08-28


Libyans protest Islamists’ destruction of shrines


Activists call on parliament to take action to protect national heritage from Islamists hardliners.


Middle East Online

By Imed Lamloum - TRIPOLI

Hardline Sunni Islamists are implacably opposed to the veneration of tombs of revered Muslim figures

Libyan activists and civil society groups on Monday urged the newly-elected parliament to intervene to protect the national heritage after Islamist hardliners destroyed shrines across the country.

In a letter addressed to the General National Congress and its speaker, Mohamed al-Megarief, 17 groups also called for the recent attacks to be investigated.

"Action must be taken before these criminals cause any further harm or damage to our heritage and our people," said the statement signed by 17 groups, including Lawyers for Justice in Libya and Women4Libya.

"We plead with you to act now to protect our heritage," they said.

Several Muslim shrines have been attacked in recent days, including those of the mystic Sufi strand of Islam.

Islamist hardliners on Saturday bulldozed part of the mausoleum of Al-Shaab Al-Dahman, close to the centre of the Libyan capital.

The demolition came a day after hardliners blew up the mausoleum of Sheikh Abdessalem al-Asmar in Zliten, 160 kilometres (100 miles) east of the capital.

According to witnesses, another mausoleum -- that of Sheikh Ahmed al-Zarruq -- was destroyed in the port of Misrata, 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of Tripoli.

Hardline Sunni Islamists are implacably opposed to the veneration of tombs of revered Muslim figures, saying that such devotion should be reserved for God alone.

The Sufis, who have played a historical role in the affairs of Libya, have increasingly found themselves in conflict with Qatari- and Saudi-trained Salafist preachers who consider them heretical.

"You as our elected official authority must act now," read Monday's statement.

On Sunday, the national assembly accused the interior ministry's High Security Committee of being lax or even implicated in the destruction of shrines.

Protesters took to the streets of Tripoli on Monday for the second day to denounce the demolitions, with dozens of representatives of civil society groups demonstrating outside the national assembly building.

The protesters echoed the letter, calling for concrete action from parliament, an AFP photographer said.

On Sunday, dozens of protesters responded to calls on Internet social networks and marched from the centre of Tripoli towards the ruins of the Al-Shaab al-Dahman mausoleum.

"Libya is not Afghanistan!" shouted one woman protester, alluding to the destruction by the Taliban militia of that country's famous Buddha statues at Bamiyan.

"We reject extremism," "No to the destruction of monuments" and "Islam rejects tombs being profaned" read some of the slogans on placards carried by protesters.

Prime Minister Abdelrahim al-Kib has come under fire in recent weeks over the work of his government, amid a spate of violence that has rocked parts of the country, including Tripoli where twin car bombings killed two people a week ago.

Authorities have blamed loyalists of now slain dictator Moamer Gathafi's ousted regime for the attacks which hit as Muslims celebrated the feast of Eid al-Fitr.

The bombings triggered a wave of criticism of the security services which are made up mostly of former rebels.

On Thursday, the national assembly, which was elected in July, met in closed session to discuss security problems across the country, with Interior Minister Fawzi Abdelali reportedly coming in for heavy criticism.

On Sunday, Abdelali resigned.


Abadi, Sadr meet in Jordan

Opposition calls on Iraqi Kurd leader to step down

UN ends Libya talks with no progress made

Tillerson pushes to undercut Iran at landmark Saudi, Iraq meeting

Greening the Camps brings food and hope to refugees

Israel police arrest 15 over anti Jewish-Arab dating campaign

No clear US strategy in Syria after Raqqa liberation

Gulf share values plummet

US-backed forces capture key Syria oil field

More than half of Austrians vote for anti-immigration party

Washington sees potential Hezbollah threat in the US

Cairo killing sparks security concerns among Copts

Iraq PM arrives in Saudi to upgrade ties

35 Egyptian police killed in Islamist ambush

Morocco recalls Algeria envoy over 'hashish money' jibe

Ceremony marks 75 years since WWII Battle of El Alamein

Somalia attack death toll rises to 358

Long road ahead for families of jailed Morocco protesters

How Raqa recapture affects complex Syrian war

Israel hits Syrian artillery after Golan fire

Germany advances Israel submarine deal after corruption holdup

Bashir Gemayel's killer convicted, 35 years later

SDF hails 'historic victory' against IS in Raqa

Hamas delegation visits Iran

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike

Yemen rebel youth minister urges children to join war

Iran's Guards show no intention of curbing activities in Mideast

EU will cut some money for Turkey as ties sour

Iraqi workers return to oil fields retaken from Kurds

Kurdish disarray shows resurgence of Iraq's army

Iranian military chief visits frontline near Syria's Aleppo

Iraq army takes last Kurd-held area of Kirkuk province

Ancient Turkish town set to vanish forever under floodwaters

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 110 people over Gulen links

Lebanon approves first budget since 2005

Tillerson does not expect Gulf crisis to be resolved soon

Moscow seeks to boost its influence in Kurdistan through oil

Hamas calls US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

OPEC chief pleased with oil market rebalancing

Turkish police detain leading civil society figure

G7, tech giants meet to tackle terror online

Iraq’s Kurdish regional government open to Baghdad talks

Tensions flare among Yemen's rebels

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Erdogan, Nigerian counterpart to ramp up cooperation