By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 13 May 2015:
People smuggling is contrary . . .[restrict]to Islam, the Tripoli-based Dar Al-Ifta (Fatwa House) has pronounced.
It was responding to a question on the subject and has just published its ruling.
Calling it “a trade in death” in which migrants were robbed of their money and then left to die at sea, it said it was a “violation of Islamic teachings”.
Damning those involved as murderers and thieves, it said that the money they earned was haram (forbidden). The country was likely to be punished as well for their crimes because Europe which “can no longer endure the growing numbers of immigrants”, would impose sanctions against it. This would cause unrest in Libya, it predicted.
The presence of so many migrants trying to get to Europe was also cause for other problems within the country, the Dar Al-Ifta said, notably healthcare issues. The migrants also might pose a security threat to Libya itself, it added.
The fatwa was signed by Sheikh Sadik Al-Ghariani appointed Grand Mufti in 2011 by Mustafa Abdul Jalil. He is still accepted as such by Libya Dawn in the west of the country, but not by the official government based in Beida or the House of Representatives which sacked him last year.
Almost all the trafficking from Libya across the Mediterranean is carried out from ports in Libya Dawn-controlled territory and officials supporting Dawn are accused of being heavily implicated in the trade, particularly in Zuwara, Tajoura and Garabulli.
With fortunes being made – one boatload of migrants can earn half a million dollars – it is not thought likely that Dawn will respond to the fatwa, despite its allegiance to Ghariani.
However, the Dawn-supported “government” of Khalifa Ghwell, shunned by the international community as illegal, has latched on to the issue of illegal immigration as the means of establishing a relationship with the European Union, notably after the tragedy last month when over 700 migrants drowned when their boat capsized.
Yesterday, Ghwell repeated a call made on Saturday to the EU to talk directly to him about illegal migration. His administration would help reduce the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, he said, but the Europeans had to work with him. He also asked the EU, especially Italy and other southern European states, for boats for the Libyan coast guard to do the job and for the wherewithal to look after detained migrants.
The Dar Al-Ifta has also published a fatwa condemning demands for bribes from Libyans trying to obtain new passports. As the Libya Herald reported last week, guards at the passport office in Tripoli have been asking for as much as LD 1,500 to allow applicants to jump the queue while those who pay nothing are kept at the back. Again, with large amounts of money being made, the guards, all linked to Libya Dawn, are thought unlikely to stop the practice.