Another Sufi mosque attacked
August 25, 2012
Tripoli, 25 August:
Another mosque has been vandalised by Salafists. The Sidi Sha'ab Mosque opposite the Mahari Radisson Blu hotel overlooking Tripoli harbour was attacked around dawn this morning, Saturday. It appears that heavy equipment was brought in to smash the shrine of Sidi Sha'ab which is housed in the mosque, an important Sufi teaching centre.
There are reports also that a Sufi mosque in Misrata was also attacked this morning.
The scene later this morning at the Sidi Sha'ab mosque was startling. There were lots of police, SSC and other officials blocking the road in front while a massive digger was smashing the building. Apparently, this was said to be preventive — to stop it from being attacked further.
This is not the first attack on the mosque. An attempt earlier this year to destroy the shrine resulted in a demonstration outside the Mahari hotel and security forces being brought in to protect the tomb.
The shrijne before being attacked (Photo: Sohail Nakhooda)
On Thursday night, the shrine of Sidi Abdul-Salam Al-Asmar Al-Fituri in Zliten was also destroyed by Salafists.
Umar Khan writes from Zliten
The (Zliten) mosque has been badly damaged. The dome in the main square was also destroyed.
The conflict between Zlitenis and the Awlad Al-Shaikh tribe, who are said to be descendants of Abdul-Salam Al-Asmar, started at Eid but escalated on Thursday. That is when heavy fighting started. The whole area from the beginning of Zliten (on the Tripoli side) up to the shrine is bullet ridden — 14.5mm and above. There were tank shells in the main square.
There was an attempt to exhume the body but those involved did not found anything till four metres down.
The overnight explosions were so loud that it brought back memories of NATO bombing. Two mortars fell in Wadi Qaam, around 600 meters west of where I was camping. A petrol station was destroyed in the same area.
There were tanks stationed on the checkpoints all the way from Zliten to Tripoli
Sufi Muslim Shrine Bulldozed in Libya
Attackers bulldozed a Sufi Muslim shrine and mosque in the Libyan capital on Saturday, one day after hardliners razed a similar shrine and library elsewhere in the country.
It was not immediately clear who was behind Saturday's attack, the third on a Sufi shrine in Tripoli in recent months, although officials have blamed past vandalism on Islamic hardliners, some of whom are followers of the ultraconservative Salafi doctrine.
Libya is a deeply conservative Muslim nation, and Islamists were heavily repressed under longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was captured and killed in October after an eight-month civil war. Since then, there has been a string of attacks on shrines across the country belonging to Muslim sects.
The campaign appears to be aimed mainly at shrines revered by Sufis, a mystical order whose members often pray over the tombs of revered saints and ask for blessings or intervention to bring success, marriage or other desired outcomes. Hard-line Salafi Muslims deem the practice offensive because they consider worshipping over graves to be idolatry.
Libya's Grand Mufti, Sheik Sadek al-Ghariani, condemned the vandalism and said it was the government's responsibility to protect the graves.
"No group outside of the government should use weapons and it is the responsibility of the government to provide security and prevent religious strife and division," he said in a statement Saturday.
Resident Abdullah Zakaria said he saw the bulldozers destroy the Sufi tombs Saturday morning. Hours later a group of men bulldozed a mosque in the same area that also contained tombs.
Security officials closed the road leading to the shrines and mosque but did not intervene to stop the men from attacking the mosque hours later. Police were seen instead protecting a nearby hotel.
Interim President Mohammed el-Megarif said in a televised speech Saturday called the actions "unacceptable" and vowed the perpetrators would be prosecuted. He also called on citizens and the security services to be more vigilant in preventing disruptive behavior.
Following the civil war, Libya has been largely without a military or police force and has relied on disparate militias to provide security and protect government installations.
Libyan writer Fathi Bin Eissa, a Sufi, said he had hoped the police would investigate who ordered past desecration of the shrines and wanted answers as to why security forces moved to protect the hotel, but did nothing as the mosque was being bulldozed before their eyes.
A security official said the police were ordered only to ensure violence does not break out.
Other attacks have taken place in the past against shrines in the eastern cities of Darna and Benghazi.
More recently, extremists on Friday bulldozed one of Libya's most important Sufi shrines and Sufi libraries in the city of Zlitan, 90 miles (145 kilometers) southeast of Tripoli.
Security officials say the attackers took advantage of deadly clashes between tribes in Zlitan this week to attack the more than 500-year-old shrine and library.
All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
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