“These are all troubling signs for all those who wanted a secular Libya,”

Libyan gunmen broke into the Saif al-Nasr mosque in Tripoli early on Nov. 8, smashed open a wooden sarcophagus and removed the remains of Saif al-Nasr, a scholar who died 155 years ago, and a former imam, Hammad Zwai.

“These bodies have been moved to a Muslim cemetery,” announced graffiti on the walls, explaining the disapproval by some Islamists of the Sufi Muslim tradition of burying scholars and teachers in mosques to honor them.

Muslims pushing for a strict intepretation of Islamic law are jostling for power in the chaos that has gripped Libya since the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi, the third North African leader after those in Egypt and Tunisia to fall in the Arab Spring.

Last month protesters holding signs proclaiming “We Are Here to Purify the Honor of Tripoli” forced the early closure of the capital’s first fashion show since Qaddafi’s 42-year rule in Tripoli ended in August.

“I was scared; I wiped off my makeup and went home,” said Jasmin Abdul Aziz, a 22-year-old student who was one of five models at the event and once paraded a $5,000 dress studded with diamonds in a Qaddafi-era fashion show. “Before, we would wear shorts in the streets. Now, look around you, nobody does.”

The man responsible for maintaining security in the city is Abdel Hakim Belhaj, the head of the Tripoli Military Council and former Guantanamo Bay inmate. The council doesn’t regard the mosque break-ins as a crime and is awaiting the formation of a religious council to rule on the matter, according to his deputy, Mohammed Goaider.

“It is not a crime, but it is not the right time for the bodies to be removed,” Goaider said in an interview. If the religious council issues a fatwa, an Islamic religious edict, demanding the removal of the bodies, security units will do the work, he said.

Belhaj was the leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which opposed Qaddafi in the 1990s and is listed by the U.S. as a terrorist organization. After joining the Taliban in Aghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks, he was captured and held by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in 2004 before being sent to Libya, where he spent seven years in a prison until his release last year.

“We are 99 percent Muslim,” said Emhemmed Ghula of the February 17th Coalition, a prominent political group that supports Belhaj. “Our country is a conservative country.”

‘Troubling Signs’

Tripoli is still controlled by a patchwork of militias, with the National Transitional Council unable to impose its authority over regional military bodies such as the Tripoli Military Council.

“These are all troubling signs for all those who wanted a secular Libya,” Shashank Joshi, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, said in a phone interview. “Libya is a conservative country, so some amount of that is to be expected, but desecrating graves and closing down fashion shows encroaches on freedoms.”

The NTC says a new constitution, which will be drafted by a panel elected by June, must have Islamic law, or Sharia, as its “principal” source.

Acting Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib is due to present his Cabinet on Nov. 20 to the NTC. Among the groups vying for posts are the Freedom, Justice and Development party, which says it is modelled on the moderate Islamic AKP party that has governed Turkey since November 2002, and the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, which says it is secular.

Women Fearful

“The civil state that we yearn for, there is no conflict with that and Sharia as the source of legislation,” NTC spokesman Abdel Hafez Ghoga told reporters on Nov. 15.

How Sharia will be interpreted remains uncertain until the constitution is drafted, and in the meantime tensions between secular and Islamist groups are surfacing in all spheres.

“We are still in the midst of Libya thrashing out its new institutions,” Joshi said. “There will be a long period of instability in which these things will continue. As long as it can remain peaceful, it’s OK.”

At a five-day conference being held in Tripoli’s Radisson Blu Al Mahary Hotel, women’s groups from across the country voiced fears about their rights.

“If they apply Sharia, everything will be good. It is a system to organize society,” Aya Blaou, a Tripoli medical student, said in an interview. “What I am afraid about is that Sharia rules are used against us.”

Civilian Administration

Belhaj’s supporters insist that Islam must be respected, and say that they support democracy.

“Belhaj wields power on the streets, but he also feels marginalized by the NTC,” Joshi said. “Even if the NTC doesn’t control the streets of Tripoli, they are still in charge. He wants to be part of that.”

The Tripoli Council, the city’s civilian administration, opposes the vandalism at the mosques, according to council leader Abdulrezaq Abuhjaar. Yet it’s powerless to act because it doesn’t control security forces, he said.

“We are not happy about this, it is not right,” Abuhjaar said in an interview. “Disturbing the dead is harming the living. It is a crime that the law punishes.”

Sufi militiamen are now guarding the remaining mosques in Tripoli, including the Sha’b Mosque, home to the body of a revered scholar, Abdul Sahfi, which is interred in a large stone sarcophagus.

Threat of Violence

“Those who break these stones, they are following al- Qaeda,” said Mohammed Abdulla, one of several armed uniformed fighters guarding the mosque. “We will not let them in.”

Women in Tripoli are feeling the heaviest burden to conform. They have been under pressure to dress conservatively since Qaddafi’s downfall, Abdul Aziz said.

She blamed Belhaj and his insistence on a strict interpretation of Islam, and warned that violence may break out if he continued the policy.

“The young people will not allow it,” she said. “We have to have a new revolution.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-16/libya-s-islamists-ransack-mosque-graves.html

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Libya, News and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “These are all troubling signs for all those who wanted a secular Libya,”

  1. shirley3199@gmail.com says:

    IAM SiCK AN TIRED OF PEOPLE ON THESE WEBSITES NOT WATCHIN H IRAN IS DOING AND HOW IT IS UNDERMINIG THE MEIT HAS BEEN MEDDLING IN YEMEN AND BAHRAIN LIKE IT MEDDLED IN LIBYA AND YOU WOULD BE FOOL NOT TO SEE BUT EVERYONE BLAMES SAUDI WHO STOOD UP FOR LIBYA ARABS DID NOT WANT CAMPAIGN OF NATO BUT IRAN WAS AND STILL IS DESTABILZING ME AND TRYING TO TAKE COnTROL AND TURN MUSLIMS AGAINST GULF IT WAS GULF WHO JUST WENT AGAINST US AND GAVE SYRIA COVER TO START PEACE PLAN IT WAS THEM AGaIN THAT EXTENDED IT THEY ARE THE MEAT IN THE SANDWICH AND WOULD SUGGEST YOU RECOMEND TO WATCH PRESS TVS DAILY REPORTS GLORIFYING TNC REBELS JUST FLEW PLANE LOAD IN SAYING THE WERE BRUTALLY INJURED AND 30000KILLED BY HORRIBLE GADDAFI TODAY PRESS TV FULL OF PEOPLE SUING GADDAFI SCUM FOR TORTURE THE GREAT TNC HOW THEY ARE SETTING UP GREAT GOV IN LIBYA HOW THE REVOLUTION IN LIBYA YRS AGO WAS TAKEN OVER BY THE BRUTAL DICTATOR GADDAFHI AND HOW NOW UNDER TNC HAS REACHED ITS TRUE GOAL MATHABA HAS CRITICIZED ANYONE SPEAKING OUT AGAINST IRAN WELL I THINK EVERYONE WANTS TO TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT IRAN WHILE IT MAY NOT HAVE WANTED BOMBING OF LIBYA IT CERTAINLY STANDS FOR THE TAKE OVER OF IT BY THESE TRAITORS AND IRAN HAS LITTLE INTEREST IN WHAT THESE KILLERS ARE DOING AND HAVE DONE OR WHAT THE MASS OF LIBYANS WANT IRAN IS THEOCRACY IT IS NOT A DEMOCRACY ARABS WERE LEFT WITH NO CHOICE ON LIBYA IRAN WAS DESTABILIZIG ME BY ATTACKING SALEH WHO WAS DEMOCRATICLLY ELECTED AND IRAN FULLY SUPPORTED THE ATTACK ON THE GOV AND PARLIMENT OF YEMEN THAT GOT THAT KILLED POLOTICIANS sALEH OFFERED LIKE GADDAFHI TO TALK AND HOLD EARLY ELECTIONS BUT THE ARMED GANG S SAID NO THE NOBEL P PEOPLE HAVE NOW AWARDED ONE OF THESE YEMINI THUGS WITH A PRIZE WHAT A JOKE ONE HAS TO WONDER JUST WHAT IRAN IS UP TO IRAN PRESS TV CUNNINGLY KEEP DEMANIZING THE TALIBAN AND MAKE NO MISTAKE BOTH TURKEY AND IRAN HAVE STABBED KURDS IN BACK WHILE KURDS HAVE REFUSED TO BECOME INVOLVED IN SYRIAN VIOLENCE IF TURKEY WAS TO ATTACK SYRIA BEING NATO COUNTRY WOULD DRAG IN NATO IRAN WOULD DO NOTHING ARABS ARE IN A PINCER AT MOMENT BETWEEN IRAN AND US PLEASE LOOK AT WHAT IRAN IS CUNNINGLY DOING AND AGAIN REMEMBER IT WAS ARABS WHO WENT AGAINST US AND PUSHED PAL UNESCO VOTE AND UN BID IT WAS ARABS WHO JUST GAVE SYRIA COVER AGAINST US AND ASSAD DID NOT IMPLEMENT ANY OF PEACE PLAN ASSAD IS AWARE THERE WAS US BREATHING DOWN HIS NECK AND aRABS AGAIN GAVE HIM MORE COVER IRAN JUST MOUTHS OFFI ALSO KNOW AL ARABIA WAS SET UP BY US DEMANDS AT HEIGHT OF IRAQ WAR TO COUNTER AL JAZEERA US WANTED CONTROL AND TO PUSH PRO US AGENDA sAUDI ARABIA IS VIRTUALLY OCCUPIED BY US AL JAZEERA IS BANNED IN US US HAS SLOWLY INFILTRATED QATAR AL JAZEERA HAS BEEN BULLIED INTO US TOOL WHILE I CAN NOT FULY UNDERSTAND QATAR ACTIONS I KNOW ARABS HAD TO PUT UP GGOD SMOKE SCREEN TO MAKE US BELIEVE THEY WERE NOT GOING AGAINST THEM WHOLE ME IN JEPORDY IRAN PLUS ARABS WANTED RFAH OPEN BUT ARABS WERE DISMAYED AT ARAB FAKE SPRING LOOK BACK AT AL MANAR HEZBOLLAH AND PRESS TV IRAN AT WHO STIRRED THE TROUBLE AGAINST LIBYA TO SAVE SYRIA WHILE QATAR ACTIONS ARE HARD TO UNDERSTAND I AM HOPING IT IS TO STOP NATO US AND GIVE TO QATAR SO THEY CAN MAKE SPACE FOR GREN OTHERWISE VERY HARD WITH IRAN TNC NATO THE US ISREAL HAVE CREATED A MIND FIELD IN ME AND TO START TO ATTACK ARABS VS US VS IRAN IS DANGEROUS THOGH TO COMPLETLY EXONIERATE IRAN AND NOT LOOK AT ALL THE PLAYERS IS WRONG I HAVE SUPPORTED IRAN MANY YRS BUT DISAGREED WITH ITS ACTIONS TOWARDS LIBYA AND HEART GOES OUT TO SAUDI WHO HAVE HAD TO STEER ME THROUGH ITS MOST DANGEROUS TIME PLEASE WATCH IRAN

  2. Pingback: Motvallsbloggen » Utvecklingen i Libyen alltmer förbryllande

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s