A street in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, before the war.​ The city is now in ruins due to the war. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili

A street in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, before the war.​ The city is now in ruins due to the war. Religion News Service photo by Fredrick Nzwili


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) An Islamist group has gained ground in the northeastern Libyan city of Benghazi, declaring it an Islamic territory and raising fears that radical Islamist militias may spread in the rest of Africa.

The declaration from Libya’s Ansar al-Sharia movement mirrors the rise of the Islamic State in northern Iraq and Syria. The two militant movements share similar goals.

The prospect of more fighting and the possible disintegration of Libya, the country where NATO allied forces helped topple strongman Moammar Gadhafi in October 2011, sent chills throughout the nation.

“I think this is a risky way to go,” said Sheikh Saliou Mbacke, a Senegalese Muslim leader who is the coordinator of Inter-Faith Action for Peace in Africa.

“It hinges on the failure of the governments, lack of democracy and poor and unequal distribution of resources,” added Saliou.

These latest actions reflect the growing influence of Islamists in Africa, where militants are challenging existing governments.

In the Central African Republic, Seleka Islamic militants want to divide the country into an Islamic north and a Christian south. Boko Haram militants have issued a similar call in Nigeria.

This has put religious leaders in a bind and strained calls for coexistence, said Sheikh Juma Ngao, a Kenyan Muslim leader who is involved in interfaith actions.

So far, Christian leaders in Libya have vowed to stay, even if the country spins out of control.

“I intend to stay even if only one Christian is left,” Roman Catholic Bishop Giovanni Martinelli of Tripoli told the Fides news agency.

YS/AMB END NZWILI

14 Comments

  1. Islam is about to blow itself up and take many innocent people with it.
    The imaginary Allah won’t step in and stop it.
    Because he is imaginary, like all the other manmade phantoms
    scribble about over reams of papyrus in ancient barbarian caves.

    Religion must be abandoned. It is all wrong.

    • A Max belief in a God is normal what is abnormal is Atheism .. Most of the world
      history prove its natural for people to believe in god. while its true they don’t agree who god is , its still natural to believe in God .. now you seem to know bible verses well so you would know the bible verses why the peoples of the world believe in God .. also max its normal to believe in a after life the peoples of the world all talk about some form of after life .. as the bible says God has set eternity into mans heart..
      you have knowledge of the bible that says Jesus loves you and has won you heaven.. perhaps some day you just may stop rejecting Him..

      • @Rob,

        “the peoples of the world all talk about some form of after life .. as the bible says God has set eternity into mans heart..”

        Rob —- It is biology!

        1. The drive to find a parent is instilled in every human baby by evolution. We would die without this drive.

        2. The drive to see believe in an afterlife is biological – you can’t imagine what you can’t know. Total blackness after death is not imaginable.

        3. Religion keeps everyone in the infant state: it is infantile. Literally demanding people revert to the infant child who is LOOKING FOR A PARENT : “ye must be born again”.

        It is abjection. It is nonsense. It is primitive.

  2. Max, Islam is a religion, i.e. a belief system. It can’t blow itself up and neither can anyone claiming to follow it. It can however be abandoned as you advocate. But given that the worsening situation apparently “hinges on the failure of the governments, lack of democracy and poor and unequal distribution of resources”, abandoning religion would still leave these underlying factors. Not only that, those adherents of religion opposed to the militias (opposed because of their religious beliefs), by abandoning their beliefs, would weaken rather than strengthen overall resistance.

    • Sure they would. Don’t atheists argue? Look at Sunni and Shi’ite Iraqis today. They’re not really arguing about Allah. They’re arguing about power, representation and resources. If it wasn’t being divided up along sectarian lines, it would be along tribal or some other lines. Greed, hubris, nepotism and a sense of entitlement are not characteristics exclusive to the realm of religion. If not through the cover of a particular interpretation of religion, they would find expression through some other rationale.

      • @Rashid,

        “Don’t atheists argue?”

        Yes we argue. But we don’t have an invisible moral arbiter (a God) who grants us permission to kill each as part of the argument.

        Atheists can be murderous as individuals and as ugly as Christians.
        But look at Atheists generally (90% of Physicists are atheist)
        or the countries which are mostly Atheist
        and you will see peace, prosperity, wealth distribution, women’s rights, education and very low crime.

        Compare that to Pakistan, Iran, Sicily, Texas, Iraq…etc. where religion is strong.

        Religion adds needless suffering. Needless because it pretends there is a god who is more important than the humanity!

  3. @Rashid. M,

    “If it wasn’t being divided up along sectarian lines, it would be along tribal or some other lines.”

    There is no evidence for that.
    Do you have an example to share of a non-FAITH-based
    movement which is Fascist and murderous?

    “Allah’s will” is the only rallying cry I can discern in Islamic countries at the moment. And according to these fervent believers, all of whom have NO DOUBTS at all, Allah wants a lot more people killed.

    • I don’t agree. The presumption that religion is always the ‘salad’ rather than the ‘dressing’, as a primary motive of what is happening in many ‘Islamic’ countries, is a notion I question. Too often what appears to be religious reasons for conflict, are found to be essentially political when examined closely. I’m obviously not talking about the likes of IS, which, although a mix of both, appears to have a self belief that it more of the former.

      Secondly, there is an alternative definition of what makes a country/region Islamic, and it is not measured by the percentage of Muslims in it, or by the proclamations of its leaders. This definition is more relevant to persons of religion such as myself, who are less interested in labels and number counting, and much more interested in substance. This definition holds that religion is as much a set of values as it is a set of (dogmatic) beliefs.

      Considered in this way, one of the most Islamic countries in the world is the United States, and some who most readily exemplify Islamic values are peaceful, charitable atheists.

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