Egypt mufti says neutrality in Libya is 'haram'

Egypt mufti says neutrality in Libya is 'haram' as Sisi beats war drums
3 min read
22 June, 2020
Two of Egypt's top Muslim religious authorities have backed the country's stance on Libya after President Sisi threatened to intervene in support of rogue general Khalifa Haftar.
Egypt has threatened to intervene in support of rogue Libyan general Khalifa Haftar [Getty]
Egypt's top Sunni Muslim authority has slammed citizens who fail to back the country's foreign policy as tensions over Libya ramp up.

"To stand together behind the national leadership is a legal duty," said Grand Mufti Shawki Allam, a day after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi threatened military intervention in neighbouring Libya.

"Whoever stands for neutrality regarding the cause of his homeland in times crisis does not deserve the honour of belonging to this country," Allam added.

Indeed, the Grand Mufti said, failing to back Egypt's foreign policy would be haram, or impermissible, leaving one outside the fold of Islam.

In a seperate statement, the Muslim world's foremost seat of learning, Cairo's Al-Azhar university, announced its support of the Egyptian regime's stance on Libya.

"Al-Azhar repeats its categorical rejection of the principle of guardianship that some countries are trying to impose on the Arab world and use it as a pretext to breach its sovereignty," the statement read, likely referring to Turkey's military intervention in neighbouring Libya.

"Al-Azhar backs Egypt's invariable keenness on a peaceful solution to the Libyan crisis and President Abdel Fattah al- Sisi's serious call for a ceasefire across all Libyan lands and resuming negotiations under the UN auspices," it added.

Read more: What does Egypt's 'declaration of war' in Libya really mean?
Under Sisi, Egypt's top religious authorities have frequently issued statements and religious edicts, or fatwas, backing political stances.
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Most recently, the Al-Azhar-linked Dar al-Iftaa issued a number of decrees targeting the Turkish government, a major rival for Cairo since 2013.

On Saturday, Sisi warned that advances by Libyan government forces on the city of Sirte could prompt a "direct" military intervention.

Thanks to Turkish military support, the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) has in recent weeks made a series of major gains from its rival, rogue general Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA). 

Sirte is a "red line" for Egypt, Sisi said. If it is taken by the Tripoli-based government forces, Cairo could be forced to intervene in order to protect its own porous borders with war-torn Libya, he explained.

"If the Libyan people asked us to intervene, it is a signal to the world that Egypt and Libya share... common interests, security and stability," said Sisi, whose regime has provided training and support to Haftar's forces.

The Tripoli-based government denounced Sisi's remarks, saying any intervention would be a "continuation of the war on the Libyan people" and a "dangerous threat to national security".

"There can be no 'red line' within our borders," said Mohammed Amari Zayed, a member of the GNA's presidential council. "We reject any bid aimed at dividing the Libyan people or their territory... (and) we categorically reject any bid to impose guardianship on Libya."

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