Shrines Desecrated in Libya by Salafists

Shrines Desecrated in Libya by Salafists

Morocco World News

Zlitan, August 30, 2012

Four days ago, Reuters and other Arab news outlets reported that some radical Islamists destroyed Sufi shrines in post Gaddafi-Libya. Reuters’ reporter in Zlitan, about 160 km (90 miles) West of the Libyan capital, argued that the shrine’s dome had fallen and a minaret was marked with many big holes.

The people who led the attacks used a bulldozer to divest the shrine of its last religious implications.

Following the killing of the ex-Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi and the capture of his son Saif al Islam, many armed factions refused to succumb entirely to the Libyan authorities and declined the idea of abandoning their weapons. This created a sort of chaos in the country and resulted in military conflicts where religious ideologies took the lion’s share.

After two days of bloody clashes between tribal groups in Ziltan, a destruction of holy sites occurred. SAs a result two people were killed and 18 were injured.

The attackers, most of whom belong to so-called extremist Salafists, seized the opportunity when security officials were much immersed in calming down the clashes and they demolished the shrine. These Salafists are seen as conservative Muslims who don’t believe in shrines, Sufi practices and rituals. They view Sufi sites as being idolatrous and a part of heresy that affects the Muslim world.

Mr. Fawzi Abdelali, the Libyan minister of Interior, has resigned on Sunday due to the inflammatory criticism that was directed against him for not being able to protect Sufi shrines – places people visit on certain occasions seeking help and guidance.

Over the past years, with the eruption of mass revolts in some Arab countries, hardliners targeted a number of sacred places that are highly venerated by Sufis in Libya, Egypt, Somalia and Mali.

In 2008 for example, Al-Shabab, a Somali armed group fighting transitional government and Ethiopian forces desecrated religious shrines in the South of the country. The armed group declared that it will fight all “heretic rituals” since, according to them, they are un-Islamic.

Now, the same scenario is repeated and there is a great fear lest such aversion to Sufi shrines would lead to serious clashes between the Sufi movements and the Salafists in the coming days.

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