By Ashraf Abdul Wahab.
Tripoli, 2 March 2013:
Libyan shipping companies and agencies have been told by the Ministry of Transport’s Director of Ports . . .[restrict]and Maritime Transport Affairs to stop all dealings with Iranian-registered vessels or those owned by Iranian companies or individuals, according to the Ministry’s Facebook page. It said the ban, ordered by the Ministry, came into affect on 10 February.
Relations with Iran have been deteriorating since last June when the Grand Mufti Sheikh Sadik Al-Ghariani declared that Iranians were trying to convert Libyans to Shiism.
At the end of the following month, seven members of an Iranian Red Crescent team invited to Libya by the Libyan Red Crescent were kidnapped in Benghazi and held for two months. At the time they were abducted it was claimed that they were being held by unknown militants to see if they were planning to proselytise for Shiism. It was later alleged that the abductors were Salafists.
The Iranian ambassador, Hossein Akbari, has persistently denied the proselytism allegations but they appear to be widely believed. It was reported last week that a month ago the Iranian embassy spoke to the Libyan authorities about information received indicating that militants were planning to attack the building. The Iranians were reportedly advised to evacuate the building on the basis that if such an attack took place, the Libyan authorities would be powerless to protect it.
Last month, the Foreign Ministry denied reports that anyone with an Iranian stamp in their passport is banned from entering the country.
However, immigration officials at Tripoli Airport told the Libya Herald that Lebanese passport holders with an Iranian stamp were being refused entry. [/restrict]