The NTC has expressed “deep regret” at the attacks on the graves of World War Two British and Commonwealth soliders in . . .[restrict]Benghazi last week. One hundred and nine gravestones out of more than a thousand were desecrated and other memorials smashed. They had stood undamaged for over 60 years.
The spokesman for the NTC, Mohammed Al-Hareizi said that the attack were incompatible with the teachings of Islam. This was a criminal act. The perpetrators, he said, would be pursued and prosecuted.
He added that there were indications that some those involved were foreign nations, but did not indicate from where.
It is thought that the attacks were the work of Salafists, angry at the burning of copies of the Holy Quran in Afghanistan last week. Salafists are being held responsible for the attacks on a number of Sufi shrines and mosques across Libya in recent months and the digging up and removal of the remains of marabouts (holy men).
The cemetery attack had caused considerable anger and distress in the city. Shocked Benghazi residents have spoken of it as an “insult” and a “humiliation”. Some people have suggested that the attacks were deliberately done for political purposes — to damage relations with the UK and undermine the image of the new Libya.
A local sheikh went on television on Tuesday to condemn the attack saying that Islam did not permit such desecration of graves. If it did, he said, the forces that took Islam to Egypt under the command of Amr in Al-As in 640, would have destroyed the tombs and monuments of the pharaohs. The did not because there was no directive from the Caliph Umar — and Umar, the sheikh stated, was better versed in Islam than those responsible for the Benghazi graveyard vandals.