By Ayman Amzein.
Benghazi, 22 December 2015:
The Beida-based government led by Abdullah Al-Thini has said that tomorrow, Mawlid Al-Nabi, the Prophet’s Birthday, . . .[restrict]is to be a public holiday. The announcement is likely to be accepted by most Libyans, regardless of where they live, apart possibily from Sirte and other areas under the control of the so-called Islamic State. Mawlid is a popular holiday throughout the country.
Ironically the Beida announcement comes just after the Benghazi office of the Awqaf (Islamic endowments) and religious affairs, run largely by Salafists, started putting out leaflets telling local mosques not to celebrate the event, saying that it was idolatrous innovation.
The occasion is, however, deeply engrained in Libya culture and much enjoyed by ordinary people. In Benghazi this evening, as in Tripoli, they are been in festive mood. Streets are full of traffic, making driving across the city something of a nightware. Getting from Dubai Street to Hadaiq district early this evening took an hour. It normally takes about 10 minutes. Dubai Street itself was closed off to traffic but packed with familes and friends out celebrating. There was a children’s procession and a strong presence of security forces to ensure that nothing untoward happened. And there were plenty of fireworks to mark the occasion.
There have been celebrations elsewhere. In Tobruk, local officials, from municipal guards to the local cleaning company, were thanked for the services they have given at a ceremony in honour of the Prophet’s Birthday at the town’s King Idris mosque. It included poems and songs. In Shihat and other towns in the east, stalls have been doing brisk business selling sweets and toys to children. [/restrict]