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Eastern Libya: Civilian State Caught in the Crossfire of Militarization and Extremism


Throughout history, the use of military power by religious authority, or vice versa, has led to disastrous consequences that ranged from declaring people infidels, tyranny, and repression to civil wars and massacres. Wars and violence committed in the name of religion by religious and military institutions, with the support of the executive, legislative and judicial authorities have always started with isolated incidents here and there. They send intimidating and threatening messages to the public, in addition to playing a guiding and catalyst role for bigger and more dangerous violations in the future. This can lead to the adoption of written, oral, or social legislation to impose a particular lifestyle. It may also end up with an attrition war against opposing groups. Thus, we must always warn against the shift that may happen to the role entrusted to these authorities and institutions in order to maintain a minimum of a civil state and basic freedoms and rights for Libyan citizens.

The temporary constitutional declaration issued on August 3rd, 2011 by the National Transitional Council, the most recent Libyan constitutional document, can be a reference regarding different freedoms and rights like total equality between all Libyans as stated in Article 6, freedom of thought, expression, scientific research, printing, publication, movement, assembly, and demonstration as stated in Article 14, and freedom of association and of civil society activities as in Article 15.

This paper clarifies the role of reproducing radical and extremist groups in Eastern Libya under the cover of official state institutions. The Democratic Transition and Human Rights Support Center (DAAM) will produce a series of research papers to monitor the phenomenon of growing extremist groups in other parts of Libya as well.

In the beginning of 2017, the Libyan East witnessed several dangerous and alarming violations of multiple citizens’ basic freedoms and rights. The violations varied from unprecedented harassment attempts against citizens, particularly targeting civil society organizations and social movements. There were numerous calls for violence and hatred issued by official religious institutions such as the Endowments and Islamic Affairs Committee, and some extremist religious groups.  The authorities even banned certain categories of citizens from travelling, along with arrests and malicious charges.

Eastern Libya is presently under the authority of the House of Representatives, affiliated with the temporary government, the Endowments and Islamic Affairs Committee, and the Libyan armed forces under the leadership of Marshall Khalifa Hafter.

The demands and fatwas issued by these official committees, answered by official security authorities, open the door for questions about the cooperation and understanding between the state religious institutions and the military from one side and radical and extremist groups on the other !


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