Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Libya: Most imams are opposed to Islamic extremism

Given the problems the Libyan regime is experiencing in arranging the current political balance – more or less one of tension followed by negative actions – it is imperative that the establishment of the election proceeds without any major disruption. Any hiatus arising from the activities of the militias or major political shifts by players in the elections will be viewed by the majority of the Libyan people as another government failure.

Of great assistance to the regime is the fairly consistent advice from the imams that honest Libyans should baulk at the disruptive activities of extremists. This message has been put out in direct and simple language through the mosques although, as yet, there is no guidance available as to the relative importance of these main religious leaders.

In an interview, Minister of Religious Endowments Dr Hamza Abu Faris stressed the importance of opposing the hostile movements controlled by the Islamic fundamentalists. Faris, like many Libyans who were educated at serious Islamic schools, takes a much more philosophical view concerning the entry into the country of non-Islamic workers, and is content to endorse the response of the average Libyan against the Islamists, as do most of the imams who are working in the country.

The religious establishment, rather like the National Transitional Council (NTC), is anxious for the country to avoid civil war and the Islamist terrorist attacks that occur elsewhere in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and now Syria. It is very aware that, throughout the long battle for the control of Libya, religion has not played a damaging or divisive role and that there are real causes for discomfort which must be faced if the country adopts a radical Islamist programme. The imams would like to see Libya escape without a fully-fledged civil war.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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