A controversial Libyan cleric has demanded his supporters to wage war against France and the United Arab Emirates in retaliation for their alleged support for the current military campaign against Darnah’s Mujahedeen Shura Council.
Al-Sadiq al-Ghariani, who was named in 2011 by Libya’s first rebel government as head of Dar al-Iftaa, the country’s religious authority, on Wednesday made a televised Fatwa [religious ruling] in which he said: “It is necessary… the jihad [holy war]is a mandatory duty against Allah’s enemies… against the French and against the unjust and the Emiratis and the infidel. Waging jihad against them is a mandatory duty. Whoever is unable to fight in jihad with one's self; should wage jihad against them using one’s wealth. It is said in the Quran that jihad is possible with one’s self or one’s wealth”.
Ghariani is no stranger to controversies. He was accused of bias during the parliamentary elections of July 2012, just a few months after his appointment, for warning the Libyan public against voting “for secular political parties”. A long list of gaffes and controversies had eventually cost him his career in November 2014 when he was sacked by the House of Representatives (HoR) for “inciting violence and civil war.”
His religious beliefs are so hard-line that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) felt obliged to issue an official statement signed by Moktar Belmoktar (aka Khalid Abu al-Abbas) to acknowledge his efforts “in defending Sharia”. The statement was released in July 2016 in which the prominent AQIM leader has described Gheryani as “fortress of Sharia” and called on Libyans to follow his religious guidance.
In April 2018 he threatened to sue the BBC for accusing him of affiliation to al-Qaeda in an article covering generous donations made by him to a British mosque. In 2014 he sued the Guardian for reporting on his controversial fatwas during the civil war of 2014.
His latest threat against France is likely to sound loud alarms across the European nation which was hit in recent years by a wave of terrorist attacks in retaliation for its participation in the war against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
Ghariani’s remarks often attract much criticism in his own country and beyond and his latest utterance is no exception: