By Ashraf Abdul-Wahab.
Tripoli, 21 June 2014:
Elders and dignitaries from the greater Benghazi area have openly criticised the statement made earlier this month . . .[restrict]by the Grand Mufti, in which he described the Operation Dignity forces led by retired General Khalifa Hafter as “outlaws” and called on Libyans to fight them.
Meeting on Thursday in Benghazi’s Kuwaifiya district, the city’s elders accused Sheikh Sadik Al-Ghariani of encouraging bloodshed and inciting people to kill soldiers and policemen.
There had to be no armed formations in the country other than the army and police, they also declared in a statement. Terrorism, extremism and the use of arms to impose views were unacceptable. In the current circumstances, they declared full support for Operation Dignity, describing it as “courageous response” to the situation in the city.
Pledging their full support for the Libyan judicial system, they furthermore called on people in Benghazi to take part in Wednesday’s House of Representatives elections while repeating the commonly held view in the east of the country that the General National Congress had ceased to have a mandate after 7 February this year.
There have been reports that some in Benghazi were planning a boycott of the poll.
The Mufti’s statement about Hafter, in which he said that the general’s forces were “infidels” who were waging a war against Islam rather than against terrorism, drew widespread criticism. The former NTC chairman, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, called for him to be sacked.
Rallying to the Grand Mufti’s side, however, the Commission of Libyan Scholars, meeting earlier during the week, claimed that there was a media campaign against him. Expressing their “deep resentment” and urging the public to support him and the Dar Al-Ifta, the Islamic scholars said that they backed his call to fight those who were outside the law – meaning Haftar’s forces.
The Commission of Libyan Scholars, viewed as close to the Dar Al-Ifta, should not be confused with the larger and more traditional Rabita Ulema Libya (Union of Libyan Ulema). [/restrict]