12 Sep 2012

Will Libyans heed the warning of the ambassador’s murder?

Who is to blame for the killing of the US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and his colleagues?

Well, the violent men who killed him in the name of Islam, obviously. But they’re not the only ones.

The Israeli-American real-estate developer Sam Bacile, who made a provocative film mocking the Prophet Mohammed, must also take his share. The attackers said they were protesting about the video – although I doubt they had seen it. And what about the Libyan government? They failed to provide the protection any diplomatic mission should have in every country.

A journalist at the scene told me that about 400 heavily-armed fighters from an Islamist brigade called Ansar al Sharia attacked the consulate at 10pm yesterday evening. “We shouldn’t have these people on our land,” they told him as they fired a rocket-propelled brigade into the American compound. Soldiers from the national army came to the scene but were out-gunned.

The men who carried out the attack have the same ideology as those who demolished Sufi shrines in Tripoli and other Libyan towns last month. They follow a strict Salafi ideology which hates other forms of Islam, women and non-Muslims. In other words, anyone apart from themselves.

They do not represent a majority in Libya, but the authorities have pandered to their intolerance. Last month, the Interior Minister said that he would not intervene to stop them attacking Sufi shrines because it was not worth sacrificing any lives to protect a grave. This seems to be what emboldened them.

Today Libyans have called for demonstrations in sympathy with the murdered US diplomats and against those bringing chaos and violence to Libya.

“If our authorities continue to be impotent and, more importantly, our people continue to remain silent and complacent…then we will be in trouble as things continue to escalate further,” said Niz Mhani, of the Free Generation Movement, a group of young Libyans trying to build a tolerant and free country.

If the new Libyan government does not assert its authority, the violent men who want to force their kind of Islam on the country will succeed and the hopes of other Libyans who fought to overthrow dictatorship will die.

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7 reader comments

  1. Gwyn Williams says:

    So sad ,There is no cure for peace in any Muslim countries,just hatred between themselves and,anybody who gets in their way.nothing can change that. My thoughts.gwyn.

  2. James Attewell says:

    It’s not just the case that the attackers will gain confidence from a lack of hard response, national pride will suffer as a consequence and since national unity is heavily dependant on national pride that could easily lead to a vicious circle with declining national morale and the attackers attacking minority groups on a divide, terrorize and conquer basis and with other Salafis joining in to eventually seize control of the country.

  3. anon says:

    Why are not the leaders of the varying Islamic faiths [ie the clerics ] not vocal about the conflicts of the vicious and warring factions of their religion? Are they promoting the violence in their aspirations for power ?

    Should the various branches of Islam be sitting down together to create a more peaceful agenda for their millions of followers.? What are the roles of the clerics in this emergence of more radical groups. Or would this merely reinforce their traditional viewpoints and unite them in their opposition.to democracy.

    I have little hope that such extreme viewpoints from a religion that does not embrace tolerance towards other faiths will be able to create a peaceful outcome. The emergence of democracy will be viewed as being contrary to their narrow religious agendas.

    Not only do we have inter faith conflict but also centuries of Islamic and Christian warring to overcome. The proponents of democracy are an eroding . threat to the traditional powers of the clerics and religious doctrine that has dominated for centuries.

    The emergence of liberation will be severely opposed. The conflict between Sunni and Shia is not declining. The new role of women is also threatening to the mainly male proponents of violence.Democracy was their buzz word ,the reality and the current post conflict hardship may well cause the emergence of more radical groups ,many anxious to repress freedom and the new role of of women.

    We can only hope that the spirit that promoted the move for freedom will prevail. It is naive to presume that our values are going to be accepted by many traditional Arabs.


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  4. anon says:

    Perhaps a better word would have been democratic values rather than ours in the final sentence. Much of the decadence of western society does not help the current situation.

    1. James Attewell says:

      yes, there’s a lot wrong with the world and although militaristic cultures can have a lot of cruelty in them it’s also true that money obsessed cultures can also be inconsiderate in other ways, I think it’s sort of human nature, it doesn’t take a lot of motivation for people to be selfish but we tend to want to be compensated for doing anything considerate so inevitably people are more selfish than considerate.

  5. Sorm says:

    Dear OldCynic, Your heartfelt wiehss are both congratulatory & serious. I think I understand the dangers you speak of. In my humble opinion, your last bit wishing Libya doesn’t have anything to do with multinational companies, etc., cannot be realized for many solid reasons. Besides legal obligations of old & new contracts, Finance & Business binds all nations to each other. There are more than 75,000 multinational companies. That total doesn’t account four all these companies myriad of subsidiaries. If one were to draw a diagram of the connections, you would have a picture of spaghetti the length of a football field. This is the reality Libya, or any other nation, builds in. They must hookup to the Financial & Business Grid if you will, with all the pluses, minus & risks associated. And there are *many* of each. Multinational Corporation is a very broad phrase. A standard definition of it is Any corporation or enterprise that manages production or delivers services in more than one country. A company that has it’s management in a 1 home country & everything else in other countries, including po production & sales market, is referred to as an International Corporation . These businesses are here to stay & will grow more and more complex overtime. The world is getting smaller. Regarding the IMF, your point is well-taken, but Libya could go that route if it MUST. It’s oil industry is a mess & they have a lot of rebuilding & new construction to deal with. It will take time. It will take lots of money. If they don’t have it .In any event, I think it’s wonderful you care about this incredible country & it’s horrible path to liberation. Have u ever seen/heard/read about anything like the Libyan Revolution?

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