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Libyan authorities say Ansar al-Sharia is responsible for the wave of violence gripping Benghazi. Citizens are also voicing outrage that the group is committing violence in the name of Islam.
Following the slaughter of nine soldiers on May 2nd, the interim government blamed “the so-called Ansar al-Sharia and other terrorist groups”.
To gauge public opinion on the extremist organisation, Magharebia took to the streets of Benghazi.
“I don’t trust Ansar al Sharia, and I hope that they will leave Libyans alone,” said Yasmine Mansouri, a 21-year-old student at the University of Benghazi.
Teacher Fathi Jehani, 43, said, “I’m not with this group because they carry out an extremist ideology secondly they do not belong to the nation, and thirdly they are fanatics and extremists, and there are non-Libyans among them.”
Several other Libyans agreed that Ansar al-Sharia stood for extremism.
“The so-called Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi and Derna are in fact supporters of evil and criminality, as well as supporters of the devil, devastation and destruction of Islam and Muslims,” remarked Khaled Mahmoud, a 37-year-old electrical engineer.
Mahmoud added, “What Sharia are they talking about? Their law permits slaughtering Muslims and robbing them of their honour, money, and homelands. Add to that, their law is to kill security men and the army. Aren’t those people Muslims too? What law permits planting improvised explosive devices in the streets and killing all who disagree with their views!”
“Their ideas are subversive and radical,” he went on to say. “They distort Islam because they show that the Islamic religion is a religion of killing and violence, while Islam is innocent of these acts.”
Mahmoud stressed, “Ansar al-Sharia is working to attract the faint hearted among the ignorant and losers, taking aantage of the factors of poverty and unemployment. Yet they won’t succeed the sons of the military establishment and those around them from the Libyan people with their various political and social forces are on the lookout. Their fate is defeat, scandal, death, and disgrace in this world and the afterlife.”
“I am against the so-called Ansar al-Sharia who claim Islam and kill people in the name of religion,” concurred Mohamed Yasin, a 45-year-old lawyer. “They are considered a terrorist organisation and no solution can be reached with them.”
Adel Ettalhi, a 39-year-old columnist, said, “We cannot build a state when there is an armed group beyond the control of the state. Ansar al-Sharia has goals incompatible with the demands of the people, although they want to promote themselves as protectors of the nation.”
“All evidence demonstrates their involvement in assassinations targeting army and police, because from their point of view we should not comply with the rules of army and police but kill them,” he added.
Yousef al-Zlititi, an employee of the Bank of Commerce and Development, said he was against the group because they sought “people’s pity with charities”.
“When you mention the name of Ansar al- Sharia the question that comes to mind is, are we from other religions? Don’t we love the law of God? On the contrary, we are the people of Sharia, the breed of Mohammed, peace be upon him,” al-Zlitti said.
Al-Zlititi added, “These groups take cover under a charitable association and humanitarian work, and now they are showing their teeth after consolidating themselves in all areas of Benghazi.”
“Ansar al-Sharia is the other side of al-Qaeda,” said Senussi Saleh, a 29-year-old oil sector employee in Sirte. “They are terrorists and those who distort Islam with criminal activities. The people and the army must force them out of Libya.”
On the other hand, teacher Youssef Najib, 33-years-old, supports Ansar al-Sharia.
“They have a vision for building this wounded homeland. Their vision is based on the sovereignty of Sharia. As for whether the Ansar are trustworthy or not, their acts are the best evidence,” he told Magharebia.
Najib concluded by saying, “O you who accuse Ansar of murder and kidnapping, repeat your answer tomorrow before God. I tell you dear fair person, do not hear about Ansar but go and hear them if you are someone who wants the truth.”
However, most Libyans are fed up with armed groups operating outside state control.
“These militias must leave Libya,” political activist Mahmoud Moussa said. “They ruined our political and social life and we do not want a state within the state. We do not want to see their faces anymore.”
Shop vendor Ramadan Younis, 36, commented: “We do not mind whoever wants to support the law who among us does not want the law of God, but not in this way. Masked men and weapons and terrorising like gangs… Supporting the law takes place by calling for reform and not at gunpoint, so as not to alienate people.”
“Besides,” Younis added, “if they were supporters of the law, then who are we? Infidels?”
Source : Magharebia