The interim constitution states Islam is the state religion and sharia the principal source of legislation. It accords non-Muslims the freedom to practice their religion and bans discrimination based on religion. The internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) remained in office, but it did not control the entire country. RADA Special Deterrence Forces (RADA SDF), a GNA-aligned police unit based in Tripoli, was involved in several arrests and detentions of individuals whom it accused of violating Islamic law. Individuals arrested by RADA SDF at a Tripoli comic book convention in November, who were later released, reported physical abuse as well as religious lectures while in custody. A religious scholar told an international NGO that the RADA SDF deliberately destroyed a 700-year-old Sufi shrine during clashes in the area of the shrine, although the RADA SDF denied the allegations. In October authorities uncovered a mass grave in Sirte containing the bodies of 21 Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS and shown in a video released in February 2015. Nonstate actors and militias continued to operate and control territory throughout the country, including the cities of Benghazi, Tripoli, and Derna, where there were numerous reports of armed groups restricting religious practices, enforcing compliance with sharia according to their interpretation, and targeting those viewed as violating their standards. On October 30, the press reported that among the 36 bodies found bound and shot outside Benghazi was 71-year-old Sufi Sheikh Muftah al-Bakoosh el-Werfalli, who was allegedly executed because he was Sufi. No group claimed responsibility for the massacre. On October 20, unidentified assailants destroyed the Sidi Abu Gharara Mosque in Tripoli. On November 28, assailants identified by Human Rights Watch as “extremist militias” burned down the Zawiyat Sheikha Radiya, a historic Sufi mosque also located in Tripoli. The attacks on the Sufi mosques remained unpunished at year’s end.
Multiple sources continued to report a restrictive social environment, including efforts designed to prevent women from traveling alone outside the country. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) said this was due to conservative interpretations of sharia and reported male relatives often accompanied women to the airport and provided them with written permission to enable the women to leave the country. There were reports the military governor in the east increased restrictions on the movement of women without male guardians. In Tripoli some militias reportedly imposed restrictions on women’s dress and movement, and punished men for behavior they deemed to be “un-Islamic.”
The U.S. embassy to Libya continued to operate from Tunis; the Libya External Office was co-located with the U.S. embassy in Tunis. The U.S. government continued to raise issues of religious freedom in conversations with the GNA and other Libyan interlocutors and in international forums.