In a new breach threatening Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and weakens its position, the relationship between former Mufti Sadiq al-Ghariani and the GNA’s General Authority of Awqaf (Endowments) and Islamic Affairs is witnessing conflicts caused by Ghariani’s attack on the authority and its president, Mohammed al-Abani, demanding that the head of the GNA isolate them and remove them from the administration of mosques in Tripoli.
In a quick move by Ghariani’s agents residing in Turkey, some of his supporters resorted to implementing the demands of their sheikh by force after GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj neglected to respond to them, exposing the Awqaf authority’s headquarters in the cities of Zaltan and Nuqat al-Khams to closure.
To justify his position, Ghariani said that a Madkhali Salafist organization supports the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, which the authority responded to in a long memorandum obtained by the Reference.
The authority refuted the accusations made by Ghariani, denying that it was affiliated at all with any foreign countries or the Madkhali Salafist ideology, noting that it is only Salafist and not Madkhali.
Ghariani’s agents resorted to opening mosques in some cities by force and returning collective religious rites in them, in contrast to the government’s decision to close mosques to confront the corona virus. The Awqaf authority’s memorandum blamed Ghariani and his supporters for spreading the corona virus, based on legal evidence affirming the legitimacy of closing mosques in the public interest to save lives.
The decision to close mosques was one of sources of dispute between Ghariani and the Awqaf, as he described the authority as neglecting religion in light of the decision.
The Brotherhood in Libya was not far from this dispute, as some of its elements supported the position of Ghariani, which was shown in the statements of Brotherhood leader Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, as he praised the actions of Ghariani’s agents in Zaltan and Nuqat al-Khams, describing their behavior of closing the Awqaf headquarters as eliminating hotbeds of corruption.
While hosting a program broadcast on a channel affiliated with Ghariani, Abdel Aziz asked what Sarraj and those with him were waiting for, not caring about the words of Sarraj or the Awqaf authority, which goes to Rabee al-Madkhali for fatwas (religious edicts).
He added that those who described the seizing of mosques as “intervention” and directing a speech in the presence of Haftar is dangerous, because they seek to win the battle by controlling the mosque minbars.
With regard to the memorandum issued by Abani to respond to the accusations, Abdel Aziz said that Abani is not ashamed of himself because he is talking about the battle, asking what Abani has provided for the battle.
“Is a unified Friday sermon endorsing a volcano of anger? Were the preachers who support Haftar isolated in their pulpits? Not a single mosque in any of the cities of the revolution supported the volcano of anger from its pulpits except for the mosques where the revolutionaries are, and they are very few, in addition to the sleeper cells that were arrested in Tripoli,” he continued.
Political analyst Mohamed al-Zubaidi commented on the debate between Ghariani and Sarraj’s Awqaf, saying that the GNA generally understands the role of religion in promoting its ideology and attitudes, noting that both are interested in controlling mosques in the capital so that they have the supreme word.
The matter has nothing to do with the reasons presented by the two parties, but rather with narrow interests in which they seek to overthrow the other party that is competing with him, Zubaidi added.
With regard to the position of the Brotherhood, Zubaidi said that it stands behind Ghariani, who lost part of his control over the religious scene in Libya by virtue of his residence in Tripoli, noting that the Brotherhood finds its interests to be compatible with Ghariani, who promotes Turkish interests in Libya.
In turn, Libya’s 218TV channel, which is close to the LNA, put the differences between the Awqaf and Ghariani in a political context, as Ghariani’s supporters lost their platforms, thus weakening their spiritual authority.
The channel added that Ghariani’s supporters express their affiliation with the GNA and fight the aggressor under its banner, while on the other hand they close GNA Awqaf headquarters in an improvisational and chaotic manner, which can only be described as contradiction, as it exploits the government’s recognition to pass its own ideas and achieve its aspirations.