from AHMED ZAYED in Tripoli, Libya
TRIPOLI, (CAJ News) – ATTACKS on the only functioning airport in the Libyan capital Tripoli have put in doubt the travel of Muslim faithful to one of the Islam’s’ most important religious duties.
Rival forces battling for the control of the city have intensified attacks on the Mitiga airport, jeopardising the ability of pilgrims from Western Libya to perform the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
More than 250 pilgrims were left stranded this past weekend after missiles hit the immediate vicinity of the taxiway used by commercial airliners.
They were forced to seek alternative arrangements.
These attacks have continued unabated since the start of the Libya National Army offensive against Tripoli at the beginning of April. This is despite the United Nations’ (UN’s) calls for the protection of all civilian infrastructure and for precautions to protect the civilian population.
Ghassan Salame, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, condemned the repeated attacks and its impact on Muslims seeking pilgrimage to the Hajj.
He appealed to the warring parties to cease hostilities ahead of the pilgrimage.
Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city for Muslims.
It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims and must be carried out at least once in their lifetime.
This year’s edition comes on the back of strife in Libya, a country where 97 percent of the country’s population of 6,8 million is Muslim.
Libya’s political unrest started when French-US led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) airstrikes backed rebel groups that toppled and eventually murdered former president Muammar Gaddafi.
– CAJ News