- Title: Benghazi residents celebrate Mawlid holiday despite opposition
- Date: 11th December 2016
- Summary: ***WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** VARIOUS OF LIBYAN SUFIS CELEBRATING
- Embargoed: 26th December 2016 14:05
- Keywords: Muhammad mawlid celebrations Libya Benghazi
- Location: BENGHAZI, LIBYA
- City: BENGHAZI, LIBYA
- Country: Libya
- Reuters ID: LVA0045CFVCK5
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Libya's Sufi Muslims went against a ban by their local clerics on celebrating the religious holiday, Mawlid al-Nabi, the birthday of Islam's Prophet Mohammad on Saturday (December 10).
The clerics, mostly from the radical Salafist movement reiterated their call against celebrations during Friday prayers (December 9), saying the festivities are against the teachings of Islam.
The tension between traditional Sufis and the Salafis, a group influenced by Saudi Wahhabis and other ultra-conservative foreign Islamists, has become a key divide between Libyan Muslims.
However, residents of the Kich district in Benghazi took to the streets on Saturday (December 10) wearing folk costumes for a street festival, complete with drums, chants, and balloons.
"Tonight we celebrate Mawlid al-Nabi, peace be upon him, and of course, we consider this to be a tradition we've inherited from our fathers and grandfathers, from hundreds of years ago. It's not a religious obligation, however, it's more of a cultural practice for people to celebrate Mawlid al-Nabi, just like some people celebrate Jesus, but we do not," said Benghazi resident, Amr al-Tayeb.
After the Libyan civil war in 2014, Libyans from the Salafist movement took control over the majority of endowment offices and mosques, expelling people who did not adhere to their ideology.
Festival events were guarded by security personnel in fear of possible attacks.
Local resident, Ahmed al-Darsy was one of many who refused to adhere to the ban.
"Today we celebrate Mawlid al-Nabi in the Kich district, may Allah continue to grant us this blessed event. God willing, Benghazi will be freed and so will the whole of Libya," Darsy said.
The annual holiday is usually marked with celebrations by Muslims around the world. Cities are often decorated, and many people hand out sweets and candy to children. Celebrations vary according to local traditions.
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