Armed groups loyal to the leader of the opposition to the United Nations-backed government in Libya, former Gen. Khalifa Haftar, reportedly burned more than 6,000 books that allegedly promote jihadi ideology affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).
Russia-backed Gen. Haftar has been dubbed the “new Gaddafi,” after the former dictator who was removed and executed by U.S.-backed militias in 2011, plunging the North African country into chaos.
Since the removal of Gaddafi, Libya has been gripped by political uncertainty and insecurity.
It appears Gen. Haftar is trying to fill the void left behind by former President Barack Obama’s policy towards the war-ravaged country, which has now become a jihadi breeding ground. Libya has no universally recognized government.
Taking a page from the Gaddafi regime, “Forces loyal to renegade Libyan general Khalifa Haftar have been accused of burning more than 6,000 books, including works on religion, politics, poetry, and philosophy,” reports Al Jazeera.
“According to a video posted on Facebook by Al Manara, a Libyan media platform, more than 6,000 books – including reported biographies of the Prophet Muhammad – were destroyed by a police force in the eastern city of Benghazi on Saturday,” it adds.
The video purportedly shows a Haftar-affiliated police officer sitting behind a desk covered with classical Islamic literature and other seized books accused of promoting ISIS ideology as well as “violence” and the “ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Influential Muslim countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, and Egypt have already deemed the organization a terrorist group.
Gen. Haftar controls most of eastern Libya, including the Libyan National Army (LNA).
Al Jazeera notes that, early this year, more than 100 Libyan writers and intellectuals condemned as “intellectual terror” a seizure of books by authorities in Haftar’s eastern Libya on charges that they promoted anti-Islamic and “erotic” thought as well as sorcery.
Gen. Haftar has reportedly appointed Gaddafi’s ex-generals to lead his army.
Described as a skilled “political manipulator,” Gaddafi also burned books during his tenure that were considered “unsound” to his objectives, reported BBC.
However, his enemies repaid him by burning his political manifesto, the Green Book, in 2011 when he was removed from office and executed.
Gaddafi’s “rule became characterized by patronage and the tight control of a police state,” noted BBC soon after the dictator’s death.
“The worst period for Libyans was probably the 1980s, when Col Gaddafi experimented on his people with his social theories. As part of his ‘cultural revolution,’ he banned all private enterprise and unsound books were burned,” it continued.
Although he served under the former dictator, Gen. Haftar was forced into exile in northern Virginia after he failed to overthrow Gaddafi in 1988 as part of the then-newly formed LNA.
Gen. Haftar currently finds himself leading armed factions in eastern Libya that reject the U.N.-backed government led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj.