Jul 21, 11:51 AM EDT

Libya's premier decried religious edict by clerics affiliated with rival government banning minority Muslim sect



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BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) -- The prime minister of Libya's internationally-recognized government has decried a religious edict issued by clerics affiliated with a rival government that bans the Ibadi, a Muslim sect to which hundreds of thousands of Libya's Amazigh adhere.

Fayez Serraj warned of "endangering social safety" and said on Friday that such edicts, or fatwas, could create discord.

A week ago, a religious committee under the government based in eastern Libya targeted Ibadi followers, describing them as a "misguided and aberrant group."

The Human Rights Watch criticized the fatwa.

Eric Goldstein, HRW's deputy director for Mideast and North Africa, said "religious authorities in Libya should stop pandering to extremists by castigating minorities in incendiary language."

Amazigh advocates say there're around 400,000 Ibadi Muslims in Libya, which has a population of 6 million.

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