Sunday, September 02, 2012

Libya / Violence against Sufis

Islamists Attack Libyan School, Mosques in Challenge to NATO-installed Government
By Mel Frykberg
McClatchy Newspapers, August 29, 2012
"An estimated 200 heavily armed Islamists destroyed 30 graves at a historic Turkish school in Tripoli's old city early Wednesday and an unspecified number of other mosques also were attacked, further signs that Libya's NATO-installed government is facing a major challenge from extremists less than a month after the first elections in this country in 50 years. Details of the destruction at the Othman Pasha Madrassa, a boarding school, were sparse, but school staff said the attackers also damaged as many as 1,000 books they found on the premises and destroyed a tree that the attackers said people had been worshipping in contravention of Islamic teachings. The attack at the school, which was founded in the 19th century by a Turkish official who is now buried there along with members of his family, was another in a string of assaults that have targeted mosques and other sites associated with Sufism, a mystical brand of Islam that some conservative Muslims consider heretical. On Tuesday, Libya's interior minister, Fawzi Abdel Al, said that heavily armed Islamists posed a serious threat to Libya's security. He said he was withdrawing the resignation that he'd tendered after the General National Congress, the elected assembly that now rules Libya, criticized him for failing to protect several Sufi shrines and mosques that were destroyed over the weekend.
Members of the police and the Supreme Security Committee, an amalgamation of militias that is the country's military, stood guard and watched as armed Salafists, followers of a fundamentalist strain of Islam, razed Tripoli's Sidi Shaab Mosque and the Abdel Salam al Asmar shrine in Zlitan, 100 miles east of Tripoli, over the weekend. Some of the attackers were reported to be serving members of the Supreme Security Committee. 'If we deal with this using security we will be forced to use weapons, and these groups have huge amounts of weapons,' Abdel Al said. 'They are large in power and number in Libya. I can't enter a losing battle to kill people over a grave.' Who exactly is behind the attacks is unclear. The IHS global information company, which specializes in geopolitical risk and security issues, tied the rise of armed Salafist groups in Libya to a broader trend of radical Islamism in the region. [...]"

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