Just this weekend in Libya -- now freshly liberated from Moammar Gadhafi, his body perforce treated roughly -- ancient and venerated shrines of the majority Sufi persuasion were destroyed. In Tripoli at the crack of dawn on Saturday, the centuries-old Sidi Al-Sha'ab shrine was flattened by bulldozers. Two separate government security forces idly stood by. The day before in the city of Zlitan, Libya's most revered Sufi mosque was vandalized, and an adjoining library had its priceless collection of theological treatises torched. The attackers were fellow Libyans. No Westerner was in sight.
The leader of Libya's new congress, Mohamed al-Magariaf, condemned the violence and sought answers from the heads of the interior and defense ministries as to why their forces did not intervene. In fact, they seemed complicit in the destruction. Now the interior Minister Fawazi Abdel A'al has resigned in a huff, and other newly elected members of the congress, which is pretty liberal by Arab standards, have compared the weekend's destruction to the destruction of Afghanistan's great statues of Buddha by the Taliban.
The whole controversy thrusts into question how stable the government is. A coalition of mostly liberals won heavily in elections held earlier this summer, but they have yet to name a cabinet. The religious parties that did not do well in the elections may be ready to make a move on the government.