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March 4, 2012 Special Dispatch No. 4544

Armed Libyans Desecrate Christian, Jewish Graves in War Cemetery in Benghazi, Calling Those Buried There 'Dogs'; Libyan National Transitional Council Apologizes, Vows To Pursue Those Responsible

March 4, 2012
Libya | Special Dispatch No. 4544

On March 1, 2012, footage of armed men desecrating Christian and Jewish graves of British and Italian soldiers killed in World War II in the Benghazi War Cemetery and the Benghazi British Military Cemetery was posted on the Internet, including on Facebook. The footage shows men kicking over headstones and smashing a cross, and calling the dead in the cemetery "dogs."

Following the incident, Libya's leading National Transitional Council (NTC) issued a statement apologizing and saying that it would pursue those responsible: "The NTC apologizes for the incident with the foreign graves, especially the British and Italian graves. This action is not in keeping with Islam." It added, "The NTC will confront this matter and, in line with Libyan law, will pursue those people who committed this act. This action does not reflect Libyan public opinion, because Islam calls for respect for other religions."[1]

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission stated on its website that the cemetery would be fully restored, noting: "We are awaiting a detailed report but in both cemeteries, headstones were broken and disfigured. Both cemeteries will be restored to a standard befitting the sacrifice of those commemorated at Benghazi, but this could take some time because we will need to source replacement stones. We will also need to be sure that it's safe for the detailed work to be carried out, but in the meantime we will ensure that temporary markers are erected over the graves. We have no reports of any maintenance staff being injured in the attack."[2]


Armed Libyan: "Break the cross of these dogs."

Another armed Libyan: "Allah Akbar. Allah Akbar."

Masked Libyan: "Let's start with these ones. These are the easiest."

Libyan youth: "Check out the sign on the one in front of you. There is even Israeli writing on it. It's in Hebrew." […]


Endnotes:

[1] Alarabiya.net, March 4, 2012

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