By Sami Zaptia.
London, 5 June 2019:
The five Pakistani nationals arrested in Tripoli in 2013 accused of practicing the outlawed Ahmadi (Ahmadiya) interpretation of Islam are still languishing in Tripoli’s Mitiga jail, a security source has informed Libya Herald. They are held in the prison controlled by the Medkhali/Salafi Abdelrauf Kara and his Special Deterrence Force (SDF)/Rada.
The five Pakistanis are construction workers and were probably unaware that their version of Islam is banned in Libya.
In 2013 they were arrested together with one Libyan by Kara’s Rada on the charge of proselytising. The Libyan was released at the end of 2018, the security source says.
The security source believes that there are no known Libyans practicing the Ahmadi version of Islam in the country and the five Pakistanis have now been ‘‘re-educated’’ into practising the Salafi version of Islam during their prison stay.
Rada has been in touch with the Pakistani embassy who have had access to them, the source added. It is not known if or when the five Pakistanis will be charged or tried. Families have reportedly been told there is a possibility they will be deported once they provide details about whom they converted.
Rada, although recognized by the internationally recognized government of Faiez Serraj and have recently been rebranded, are in practice the armed wing of the Salafi/Medkhali brand of Islam which originates in Saudi Arabia.
In practice, through the use of their coercive force, they dominate religious discord in Libya by controlling most mosques in Tripoli. They also attempt to stamp out any outward practices of other Islamic interpretations such as the historically dominant and moderate Sufi interpretation.
The Medkhali/Sufis have also become very strong in the east as they have aligned with Khalifa Hafter and his Libyan National Army (LNA).
However, to add complexity to the scenario, after the recent Hafter, LNA and allied forces launched the attack on Tripoli on 4 April, some Medkhalis have chosen to fight with the Serraj-aligned forces. This has caused a major rift between the Medkhlis and other Salafi groups.
The Ahmadi movement was founded in 1889 in Qadian, north India, by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as an offshoot of Islam and regards itself as a reform movement. Ahmadis consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be the promised Mahdi or Messiah awaited by Muslims.
The movement is seen as heretical by main mainstream Sunnis, including Saudi Arabia where they are officially prohibited from performing the Haj pilgrimage.
Today, there are an estimated 20 million Ahmadis worldwide with Pakistan being home to the world’s largest Ahmadi community of about four million. However, they have been legally classified there as non-Muslim and have been the target of terrorist attacks.