Thursday, May 24, 2012

Libya's Democracy Unfolding

Secularist Libyans have reason for alarm, witnessing Islamists engaged in their mission to enforce their strict theological moral code on the country.  The Salafis feel emboldened enough to burn down halls where parties have been traditionally held, and to harass women who are sufficiently immodest as to venture into public without head coverings. 

Believing as they do that Islamic laws must be followed in the ascetic form exemplified by the Prophet Mohammed himself.

Any later additions/symbols/practices to the simple faith the Prophet practised - including tombs or elaborate grave markings are considered to be idolatry.  And to these insults against Islam they respond by attacks on Sufi shrines, a traditional portion of Libyan Islamic worship. 

Shrines all around the country have been demolished, the bodies of their venerated holy clerics dug up and dumped beyond the places where they have been given veneration.

A Salafi militia named the Thalath Salafi brigade is said to be behind many of the holy complex attacks.  "Having any sign or tomb marking a grave is a form of infidelity and must be removed.  We prefer to call it a reorganization of the graves", explained a spokesman for the Jalal al-Gheit brigade.

Sufi devotions include the singing of hymns, chanting the name of God, dancing in celebration of the divine, all reflecting the mystical strain of Islam dating to the inception of Islam.  Sufis build shrines to their revered holy men and scholars.  Pilgrimages to these shrines are an important part of their worship, with hundreds of shrines everywhere in Libya.

Since the cessation of the Gadhafi regime the Salafis who were kept in check, and sometimes jailed for their extreme beliefs now feel free to express themselves.  The acquisition of weapons have been a huge assist to their mission to 'reform' Libya's system of Islamic beliefs. 

Their ultra-purist version of Islam has not endeared them to those who follow the deeply-entrenched Sufi beliefs in Libya.

The Libyan National Council, still struggling to exert authority against the disparate groups that had launched the popular insurrection against the rule of Moammar Gadhafi is experiencing more than a little frustration.  They have been unable to convince the competing tribal militias to surrender their weaponry, to unite the country, and to put their trust in a national government.

The optimism that had marked the heady, insecure and violent days of the militant protests, have resulted in weary chaos as the country continues to battle itself.  The armed militias responding only to their own, refusing to disarm, to aid in building a state army and police force represent a huge part of the problems facing the country.

The emergence of unrestrained freedom for the Islamists to forcefully attempt to compel those of moderate, traditional Islamic faith to reflect that of the firmly fanatical Salafists, yet another burden brought to bear in a part of the world where tribalism, antipathy and violence have always been present to defy unity of purpose and society, and where tyrannical rule has been the sole method of control.

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