Islamic Call Society Reveals Reasons for Decision to Demolish the Building Rented by the House of Arts – Al Marsad
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The World Islamic Call Society (WICS) issued a statement claiming that the House of Arts has not being paying rent since 1994, as war of words between the Society and Tripoli’s cultural figures escalates.

(LIBYA, 27 March 2021) – The World Islamic Call Society (WICS) said in a statement said it supported every action that would serve Libya domestically and abroad, and that it was keen to clarify all the facts in a transparent manner, based on the principles of the Islamic religion, on its position on the building on which the House of Arts rents its space.

The House of Arts

UNPAID RENT SINCE 1994

WICS denied the allegations that have been circulating on social media on the building that the Art House has been renting it for many years. It said that the Society had formed an expert committee some time ago to review its properties, including the building in which the House of Arts rents a number of apartments.

The expert committee concluded that the House of Arts had not paid WICS the rent value for the rented apartments since 1994. The statement said the House of Arts was using the  first floor, the basement, a workshop in the outside yard, for a rental rate of of 830 LYD per month. WICS said the House of Arts had not paid any amount since 1994, and that the accumulated rental debt had now reached 221,100,000 LYD. WICS said that, notwithstanding the debt, it had allowed the House of Arts to continue making use of the apartments.

It added, that “before the year 2011, the House of Arts was notified to pay the amount due, but they refused; they were also notified by the City District Court on the payment of the rent with a warning termination of the contract, but they did not pay the amount owed to them.”

BUILDING NEEDS TO BE DEMOLISHED

WICS said the the building is structurally dilapidated and unfit for housing and needs to be demolished and rebuilt again. It said that the decision was take given technical reports prepared by engineers, and that everyone who benefits from the building space has been notified in advance of the building’s status through the municipality and with due official process.

WICS also indicated that it had contacted the House of Arts many times demanding payment of outstanding rent and financial obligations accumulated over the years, but there was no action taken. It said that despite WICS’s legitimate rights, it had provided an alternative building for the House of Arts which was owned by the Society.

The statement concluded by remarking that “as everyone knows, we are one of the institutions that work to support all educational and cultural institutions. It has a college which has more than 4 branches and many students from several countries study in it. This is why we are surprised that some of the media make false allegations to distort the image of the WICS, and we are ready to communicate with all the social media to respond to any remarks related to this topic.”

DEPRIVING CULTURE IN LIBYA

Critics in Tripoli argue that the timing of the move comes in the wake of several efforts of late to restrict cultural activities in the capital are have started petitions against the decision by WICS.

One young social media commentator, Malak Altaeb, said: “Libya has been deprived of cinemas, theatres, and houses of culture for so many years. However, whenever people set out to establish one of them; they discover that its ownership is controlled by those who have radical Islamic personalities.”

 

She said she had doubts on the argument that WICS had put forward on unpaid rent by the House of Arts: “This narrative remains sceptical and due to the strategic location of the house, it is now a target. It makes you question why they chose this time.” She asked, “Why haven’t they called for its ownership in Gaddafi’s time or even post independence in 2011?”

“The House of Arts is an ancient institution and is one of the most important cultural platforms in Tripoli. Many art exhibitions, seminars and poetry evenings have always been organized. It has also hosted prominent personalities and foreign guests to introduce and highlight the cultural face of the city. Many generations, and myself, have special memories with this place,” said Altaed.

PRIME MINISTER DBAIBA VISITS THE BUILDING

The Prime Minister of the interim Government of National Unity (GNU), Abdul Hamid al-Dbaiba, perhaps in an effort to defuse tensions between WICS and the figures from Tripoli’s art community, visited the House of Arts building. According to the PM’s office, he visited the House Arts upon invitation by a group of artists and intellectuals in response to their calls to preserve their cultural space.

Prime Minister Dbaiba visiting the House of Arts today.

Dbaiba was accompanied by the new Minister of Culture, Mabrouka Aoki, and he met with a number of activists and cultural figures, as he learned about the history of the establishment of the House of Arts and contribution it made to strengthen Libya’s cultural and artistic contribution with over 600 exhibitions.

During the visit, Prime Minister Dbaiba inaugurated the art exhibition of the artist, Alajili Elabidi. Dbaiba expressed the need to revive and advance cultural activity in LibYa, especially since artists are considered the country’s ambassador “practicing a common language among peoples and representing a unique communication tool with other societies.”

© ALMARSAD ENGLISH (2021)

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