Libya: Is Derna becoming an Islamist emirate?

Libyan followers of Ansar al-Shariah Brigades and other Islamic militias, hold a demonstration against a film and a cartoon denigrating the prophet Muhammad in Benghazi, Libya, Friday, Sept. 21, 2012

A group calling itself the “Shura Council of Islamist Youth in Derna” says it plans to impose Sharia law in the eastern Libyan town.

The jihadist group paraded through the coastal city on Friday (April 4th), AFP reported. Photos on the group’s Facebook page show dozens of pickup trucks with heavily armed men in uniforms, their faces obscured by masks.

With the absence of state institutions, the region is fertile ground for extremist organisations looking to grow and thrive.

The Shura council declared their hostility to about anyone who, in their view, antagonises God and the Prophet.

Nahla Bashir, a housewife, noted that the General National Congress already acknowledged Sharia was the basis of legislation. “So what do these people want? I think they want to rule people with their own ideas,” she said.

“We do not want brigades or a youth council for Derna,” commented Abdullah, a 36-year-old from the city. “We want police and army and not masked youth riding SUVs with medium weapons.”

Abdel-Hamid Salam, a 43-year-old merchant, said that if a group not belonging to the state was running a city it meant that the state was absent, leading it to fall prey to entities that could harm the country…