Libyan activists urged the newly-elected parliament to intervene to protect the national heritage
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 center of the Libyan capital.
The demolition came a day after hardliners blew up the mausoleum of Sheikh Abdessalem al-Asmar in Zliten, 160 kilometers (100 miles) east of the capital.
According to witnesses another mausoleum,that of Sheikh Ahmed al-Zarruq, had been destroyed in the port of Misrata, 200 kilometers (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 Sunday to denounce the destruction, but Monday’s statement said some demonstrators were attacked.