Tripoli, 26 August:
Interior Minister Fawzi Abdelal resigned today following criticism of his department’s handling of recent violence and the desecration of . . .[restrict]Sufi holy sites.
“He submitted his resignation to protest against congressmen criticising the government and to defend the revolutionaries,” an official from Abdelal’s office told the newsagency AFP.
Yesterday there had been calls from inside the Congress for both Abdelal and the Defence Minister, Osama Juwaili, to resign.
Of particular concern has been the handling of the desecration of the Al-Sha’ab shrine in Tripoli, which took place yesterday.
The shrine, one of the most important Sufi mosques in Tripoli and resting place of the holy man Sidi Al-Sha’ab, was attacked by Salafists yesterday morning.
A digger then moved in to finish the demolition, overseen by personnel from the Interior Ministry’s Supreme Security Committee.
Yesterday, Reuters reported that the Interior Ministry had authorised the operation following allegations that people had been worshipping at the tomb buried beneath the shrine and practicing “black magic”, claims the Interior Ministry denied this morning at a session of the National Congress.
At this stage, the resignation of Abdelal is laregely symbolic, as the government only has at most two more weeks before it is due to be replaced. [/restrict]