Controversy in Tripoli over a Synagogue

"I do not want to play the role of a hero, I don't want to play a martyr, I just want to be here to support the new Libya and the democracy and to build this; this is what I want to do. Just this! I want to be part and not be discriminated " This is what Daoud Al Jibri, a Libyan man with Jewish roots had to say after he was forced to leave the Dar Bishi synagogue he had opened, at the beginning of October. But he left the temple "out of fear for his safety." The synagogue had been closed for several years but Daoud wanted to open it after his return from exile earlier this month. After opening the synagogue, Daoud's aide warned him that his life was in danger and suggested he leave the temple. However, Daoud is committed to making the temple functional and is waiting for official approval to carry on with its restoration. However, there has been some controversy around the synagogue with officials saying Daoud did not have the authority to open the temple without required permits, which he claimed to have, but was unable to present when he was asked to do so. Officials expressed surprise when they heard of his interviews to the media about the synagogue as they had thought he was going to the temple just to pray. Jamal Hamid, chief of Tripoli military council, said they were shocked to see Daoud breaking down the temple's doors. "We sent some officers and they brought him to the military council. We asked who had given him permission to enter this place and he said he has a permit from chairman of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil." "We discovered that he brought digging tools and not cleaning utensils so we are questioning his motives" said Salem Al Azabi, chief of Tripoli's national council. Officials in the tourism department said only the archeological bodies have the authority to restore the building. "He entered the temple without any official permit; this is a historic site in the old city of Tripoli," said one official. Each party claims that it has the rightful authority to restore the synagogue. What is clear, however, is that Daoud has not faced any resistance or abuse from the residents. Daoud said he hoped Libyans would change their attitude towards Jews following the revolution. "There are more than 200,000 Libyan Jews in the world who would like to visit their country of birth." Original Arabic Report: Ahmad Bagato -- Al Arabiya- Tripoli city Translation: Stanela Khalil Voice: Nadia Idriss Mayen

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