By Al Russell.
Tripoli, 25 August:
The Al-Sha’ab suffi shrine, opposite the Radisson Blu Hotel in central Tripoli, is currently being demolished by heavy machinery, under the protection of security forces. It is understood that the shrine was vandalised by Salafist extremists this morning and the demolition is a preventative measure against further attacks.
However, there are growing suspicions that the destruction of the shrine has some form of official approval. According to Reuters Middle East correspondent Hadeel Al-Shalchi on Twitter, the Ministry of the Interior gave consent for the demolition due to “evidence of black magic”, as it is believed that some worshippers prayed at tombs on the site.
Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur also took to the social networking site to say “the destruction of shrines and mosques is a crime. those who commit these crimes will be held responsible… I asked the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defence to intervene yesterday but they did not do their duty to protect these sites.”
Mohammed Magarief, the president of the General National Congress, released a similar statement via Twitter condemning such attacks.
Tempers appear to be on edge at the scene, the Libya Herald witnessed a fight between a bystander and a guard, and those taking photographs were asked to leave.
This is not the first attack on the mosque. An attempt earlier this year to destroy the shrine resulted in a demonstration outside the hotel and security forces being brought in to protect the tomb.
Salafists have destroyed a number of Sufi shrines in Libya since the revolution. On Thursday night, the shrine of Sidi Abdul-Salam Al-Asmar Al-Fituri in Zliten was also attacked. In March, they tried to destroy one of the most important shrines in the country, that of Sidi Abdul-Salam Al-Asmar Al-Fituri in Zliten and in June the Sahaba mosque in Derna was destroyed in a bomb attack.