In a long statement, the League of Libyan Ulema – Muslim scholars – condemned the recent attacks against Sufi mosques and places of study, as also shrines of “saints”, according to various sources carried out by Salafi groups.
The statement stresses the lack of knowledge of the Salafis of the religious traditions of Libya, openly accusing Saudi Arabia of financing these groups and providing funds for the publication of free religious material with explicit reference to ties between the groups responsible for the attacks and the former regime of Muammar Gheddafi.
The Ulema also call on the National congress (parliament elected in July) and interim government to take measures to prevent and discourage new acts of violence and destruction.
Over the past two weeks, various Sufi holy sites – a more inner, dimension of Islam and for this reason less modern in respect to the Salafi, more exterior – but also shrines of venerated figures (translatable as “saints”) and study centers were attacked, destroyed or damaged in Tripoli, Zliten and Misurata. The latest attack occurred yesterday in central Tripoli against the Othman Pasha madrasa (school). Some thirty tombs inside the structure were almost entirely destroyed by around 200 armed Salafis at dawn, according to the Libya Herald.
After the Salafi attacks, Interior minister Fawzi Abdelal last Sunday presented his resignation, then withdrawing it claiming “it would complicate matters”. His resignation in fact risked causing further problems after the announcement by the National congress of the formation of a new government by September 8.