By Libya Herald reporter.
Tripoli, 11 December 2016:
There were fireworks in the streets, religious poetry in mosques and sweets handed out everywhere as Libyans celebrated the start of Mawlid Al-Nabi (the Prophet’s Birthday) today, the actual festival being tomorrow, Monday. In Zliten, however, there was shock as Salfists forced their way into the mosque in the town’s Sebaa district, put an end to the poetry recitals and started smashing it up. It was all haram, they declared, in particular having women in the mosque.
In 2012, Salfists destroyed the Sufi shrine at the town’s Sidi Abdul-Salam Al-Asmar Al-Fituri mosque.
There had been fears that Salafists would try disrupt this year’s celebrations, at least in Tripoli and parts of the west. People in the capital expressed concerns that the traditional religious processions would be attacked.
In an apparent nod to the power of the Salafists in the capital, particularly within the militias, there was no statement from the Presidency Council declaring Mawlid to be a public holiday or congratulating people on the celebration, unlike in the east where the president of the House of Representatives, Ageela Saleh, issued a celebratory statement. It was in stark contrast to one from the Beida-based interim government’s ministry of awqaf (religious endowments) and Islamic affairs, saying that the festival should not be followed. It was, however, a lone voice in the east.
Most Libyans are deeply attached to Mawlid and across the country families prepared for Monday’s festivities.
As usual, unfortunately, the festivities were marred for some famiies by fireworks injuries. In Tripoli, it is reported that as many as 70 people had to be treated in hospital for burns as a result of fireworks exploding or being badly handled; seven are said to have lost fingers. In Misrata, 15 people were treated for fireworks burns and in Bani Walid, where six people were injured, the hospital called for fireworks to be banned and outlets selling them to be closed.
Libyans traditionally celebrate Mawlid with fireworks.