Human Rights Watch denounces attacks on Sufi sites in Libya

Human Rights Watch on Thursday condemned the exposure of religious sites in Libya to attacks by “extremist” militias.

“Sufi religious sites in Libya are under attack,” the New York-based organization said after two attacks in the capital city of Tripoli in the past two months.

She said unidentified men burned the corner of the corner of Sheikha Radia, a historic mosque for Sufis in Tripoli, which caused severe damage on November 28, 2017, on the eve of the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet.

Another attack on October 20 destroyed the mosque of Sidi Abu Qaradah, an archaeological mosque in Tripoli, the group said.

The report comes after an attack by suspected Islamist militants killed more than 300 people at a Sufi mosque in the troubled north of Egypt in late last month.

Sufi methods are practiced in many areas of the Islamic world. But Salafists consider Sufism to be heretical.

Human Rights Watch said Sufi religious sites have been attacked in Libya since the 2011 uprising that toppled leader Muammar Gaddafi and claimed his life.

After the uprising, the country plunged into chaos amid rival militias and rival administrations.

“The successive transitional authorities since the 2011 uprising and across Libya have not been able to protect the Sufi religious sites in Libya from attacks and destruction by extremist militias,” said Erik Goldstein, a UN official.

“These attacks targeting the Sufi mosques and passing without accountability have exposed one of the historical minorities in Libya to danger,” he said.

According to Human Rights Watch, armed groups in Libya “have launched and destroyed dozens of Sufi religious sites” since 2011 and have abducted and killed Sufi religious practitioners “without accountability”.

Mosques, shrines, tombs and libraries containing ancient manuscripts were destroyed.