In Libya’s capital, book workshop owner, Ezzaldeen Arfa is now restoring worn out editions of the Koran without inspections or interruptions by deposed Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s spies who used to scrutinize Islamists during his 42 year rule.
The workshop, based in Tripoli, is currently restoring Korans collected from schools and mosques.
Since the fall of Qaddafi there has been an increase in religious freedom in the country after years of suppression of Islamists.
“The main purpose of the workshop is to maintain the holy Koran. We have noted the poor conditions of the holy Koran in mosques and schools; hence the idea came to create the workshop,” said Ezzaldeen.
During Qaddafi’s rule Ezzaldeen’s workshop was monitored by security officials who were ordered to be on the lookout for devoutly religious Libyans who may be extremists or members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“Actually, over the past years since we began this project we have faced difficulties because of the former regime, in particular, the security forces. There was an intense scrutiny on such projects; one was not allowed to practice anything related to the Koran or with religion in general. Personally, a number of people who have ties with security forces contacted me to inquire into our movements and about these training courses,” Ezzaldeen explained.
All Korans, whether from mosques or individuals, can be brought to the workshop and be restored for free. Ezzaldeen’s workshop also trains children and women to rebind and restore Korans.
"This is a wonderful idea that should be adopted by the entire Muslim world and they should start to protect Korans. Thank God ... we have to preserve God's words and we have to keep it in our hearts. We work hard to protect property and possessions; we work to protect our money and children. The Koran needs real care and protection," said trainee Anessa Ibrahim.
After the revolution, Libyans say they are free to worship as they wish and are mindful of how large a role it should play in their everyday lives.
Islamists have been gaining power and popularity across the Arab world as evidenced by the electoral victories in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco over the past few months.