Libyan Theocracy?


The New York Times, reporting from Benghazi:

… The sea of flag-waving citizens reacted with shouts of “God is great;” minutes earlier, they had sung the bouncy Italianate national anthem used before Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi came to power. The song has been revived to help celebrate the downfall of the dictator, who was killed on Thursday.

Two strands — a new piety and all-purpose, free-wheeling euphoria — dominated the hastily improvised ceremony, which was intended to put a cap on Libya’s bloody upheaval and mark the beginning of the country’s transition to something approaching normalcy …

… "We are an Islamic country," Mr. Abdel-Jalil, the chairman of the Transitional National Council, said as the sun descended. "We take the Islamic religion as the core of our new government. The constitution will be based on our Islamic religion."

Still, the Times reports, the crowd was ecstatic, shouting the praises of freedom. As they yelled and sang, Abdel-Jalil promised to cap interest on bank loans and reinstate Qur'anic polygamy.


  1. Karl says

    These matters are not for the council to decide. They will be decided by whatever government is elected next year. Abdel-Jalil is just exploiting the moment to get his views out.

  2. ynot says

    It’s too early to form conclusions. It could be that he want to placate religious conservatives at this time before the actual government begins its work – much like republicans like to give raw meat to the evangelicals to get elected. Time will tell.

  3. Paul R says

    Polygamy? Not so great. Islamic banking? Common practice in many countries. They just don’t call it “interest,” but they still make money.

    All religions are hypocritical.

  4. Chunks says

    Oh it’s nothing to worry about. The only bad theocracy is a Christian one such as the modern day USA under evil theocrat Obama. Islam is the religion of peace, rainbows and unicorns…

  5. just_a_guy says

    Hmm. Islam’s statism is what offends me–and what suppresses it’s women and gay people so intimately and violently. Am I the only person wishing there’d be a budding Luther somewhere in the Islamic lands, actually insisting on questioning church doctrine?! Until massess of ordinary folk refuse to simply submit to the rulings of some superstitious “prophet,” church does not get split from state.

    C’mon ordinary muslims: Grow a pair.

    Be yourself and demand that your government allow u freedom from what the sanctioned “prophet” or some such orders.

    Am I missing something?

  6. Mike C says

    The people of Libya are of an entirely different background than us. It’s time we understand that not everyone in the world is like us or wants to be like us. Everyone wanted Gaddafi toppled, but only wants a society to rise up that looks like the one they’d plan out in their head? An Islamic government for the people of Libya makes sense to a lot of them, and I would have expected them to incorporate parts of Islamic law into their country. It’s also important to realize that basing a constitution on Islam does not necessarily mean draconian sharia law.

  7. Nat says

    “It’s time we understand that not everyone in the world is like us or wants to be like us. Everyone wanted Gaddafi toppled, but only wants a society to rise up that looks like the one they’d plan out in their head?”

    Yes, I’d greatly prefer the society in my head, because in it, a plurality of ideas are permitted, restricted only by the harm they inflict on other people who don’t share them.

    It’s perfectly fine to deal with an Islamist Libya, just as it was fine for a time to deal with Gadhafi. But the notion that a religious theocracy is healthier or better suited to accommodate the diversity of human nature is farcical.

  8. JeffNYC says

    Pretty soon, it’s gonna suck to be a woman or a gay or a Coptic Christian in Libya, Tunisia or Egypt.

    By winter, Arab Spring will have turned out to be a wonderful thing, as long as you’re male, heterosexual, Muslim and subservient to theocrats.

  9. Sam says

    I guess all girls should be covered up in curtains and trash bags in case the building they are in catches fire. The Saudis have been preparing their brand of Wahhabism for Libya for quite some time.

  10. Nat says

    It is manifestly more difficult to separate Islam from the state than most other faiths.

    There are a multitude of reasons, but there’s one that always sticks out to me: the Islamic world has had its borders shaped by Western powers; they didn’t develop through the same lengthy cultural and territorial process, nor did they experience their version of the European maturation that led to the modern nation-states as we conceive of them.

    None of that is to say that national rivalries don’t exist; anyone with half a brain can see that they do. But what it does mean is that a notion of government that is truly separate from religious dictates is absolutely foreign to many in the Islamic world. They possess different fundamental conceptions about how the state operates, and it is nearly impossible to extricate those conceptions without a dictatorial secular force. And when that secular force’s power wanes, then political Islam is an inevitable consequence.

  11. Lexxvs says

    Well, if someone seriously considered that a country that had democracy in like… never, would move softly towards it in a western orderly way, oh gosh, how little life he had. The only force left in an Arab country always ruled by hard hands is not surprisingly religion, and not any religion, but one that has a thingy for intolerance. So forget about any honeymoon. If anything and if they achieve some sort of Muslim democracy –not very democratic, but well- lets plan for a timid approach to some sort of western style freedom in like 20 to 30 years minimum, and all depending on what kind of a constitution they vote for next. But I bet the constitution will make certain that nothing too un-Islamic can slips its way into the people’s vote, so nah, forget about it all.

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