Libyan assembly votes to follow Islamic law

TRIPOLI Wed Dec 4, 2013 4:18pm EST

Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan speaks during a news conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Tripoli October 30, 2013. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan speaks during a news conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Tripoli October 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Ismail Zitouny

Related Topics

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's national assembly voted on Wednesday to make Islamic law, or sharia, the source of all legislation, in an apparent bid by moderate Islamists to outflank ultra-conservative militants who have been gaining influence.

Two years after the NATO-backed uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is still in messy transition, with no new constitution, a temporary government and nascent security forces struggling to contain militias and former rebels.

The immediate impact of the statement was not clear in the already overwhelmingly Muslim country, though it could affect criminal and financial legislation.

"The legislative system does not contain many laws that contradict Islamic law so it is easy to say sharia would be the sole source of legislation," said Ibrahim al-Gharyani of the National Forces Alliance party.

But lawmakers suggested at least part of the reason for the statement from the General National Congress (GNC) was political.

As in Tunisia and Egypt, where autocratic leaders were also ousted in the Arab Spring revolts, Libya has seen fierce debate over the role of Islam in its new democracy with the rise of ultraconservative Islamists long suppressed by Gaddafi.

The hardline group Ansar al-Sharia, blamed for the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, has been attempting to extend its influence, and has accused some assembly members of being un-Islamic. Its militants have clashed with the armed forces in the east of the country.

"This statement will close the gap on anyone who says the GNC is not working parallel with sharia law," said Mohammed al-Zaroug, from the Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Construction Party (JCP) which promotes Islamic law.

The Congress statement said the assembly had agreed Islamic law was the source of legislation and that a special committee would review existing laws to ensure they comply with sharia.

Unlike codified Western law, sharia is more loosely defined moral and legal guidelines based on the Koran, the sayings of Prophet Mohammad and Muslim traditions.

One reform if Libya applies sharia may be a shift to more Islamic finance regulation, based on religious principles which avoid interest and pure speculation.

The Congress's decision came shortly before a vote to form a 60-member committee that will draft a new constitution.

(Additional reporting by Ghaith Shennib; writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (4)
QuidProQuo wrote:
Naturally, Libya should follow whatever system of justice they can apply justly in their country. I wouldnt’ expect them to all of a sudden become westernized and follow codified laws. But I still don’t really understand the whole reason for the overthrow of Ghadafi. Seems to me like Libya was truly better off with him keeping things suppressed. I have a lot of deep nagging feelings about the whole Middle east uprising thing and really think that there are some dark forces in America that had play in it all. I still have suspicions that there are many in our own country that want total global anarchy and factious wars so their blood thirsty desires can be fulfilled by getting into the fray.

Dec 04, 2013 4:34pm EST  --  Report as abuse
DeanMJackson wrote:
Here we have another secular Arab nation becoming “Islamicized” by the West! Why is the West causing chaos in secular Arab nations, supporting radical, so-called “Islamists”? Why is the West doing everything it can do in the Arab world to radicalize the Arab world and bring into being Islamicized” nations? Why isn’t Israel demanding that the West cease and desist in radicalizing the Arab world?

The answer is that the West (and Israel) was co-opted decades ago by the USSR & allies, which is why not one political party in the West demanded verification that the “collapse” of the USSR was real or a disinformation operation, such verification being critical for the survival of the West.

Imagine it’s March 1944 and the Allies receive word from Berlin that Hitler and his inner circle are dead, cremated, and the Nazi government has collapsed. What do you think the reaction of the Allies would have been? To pack up the war in Europe, demobilize the armies there? Ah, no. The Allies would have demanded that an occupation of Germany take place, where the Allies (1) could ensure that the Nazi government in Berlin had indeed fallen; and (2) prepare Germany, to the satisfaction of the Western Allies, to enter the pantheon of democratic nations. With that in mind…

The fraudulent “collapse” of the USSR (and East Bloc) couldn’t have been pulled off until both political parties in the United States (and political parties elsewhere in the West) were co-opted by Moscow & Allies, which explains why verification of the “collapse” was never undertaken by the West, such verification being (1) a natural administrative procedure (since the USSR wasn’t occupied by Western military forces); and (2) necessary for the survival of the West. Recall President Reagan’s favorite phrase, “Trust, but verify”.

Regarding the “War on Terror”, Moscow and Beijing tasked America to conduct the operation to ensure that while the USSR was in a “liberalized” and therefore weakened state, such a war would (1) create enmity between Islam and the West; thereby (2) aborting any possibility for an alliance between Islam and the non-co-opted militaries of the West against their mutual and true enemy…World Communism; and (3) create the image that the United States is a rogue state, invading/attacking nations with impunity, thereby setting the stage for a future “democratic” China replacing United States preeminence on the world stage.

Notice that Washington, DC refuses to wage illegal wars against China, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos and Burma, all nations that persecute their populations in one way or another. Only Muslim nations are invaded? Why would that be? Why is the United States funding the so-called “Arab Spring” movements, but not “Communist Spring” movements in China, North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos and Burma (Burma is also a Communist nation; in fact, the fake dissident Aung San Suu Kyi’s father founded the Burmese Communist Party in 1939, becoming its first General Secretary, which is why Aung San Suu Kyi keeps her silence as Burmese Muslims are being slaughtered. Didn’t know those facts, huh?)?

Dec 04, 2013 4:45pm EST  --  Report as abuse
MikeBarnett wrote:
The US idiot in chief, stupidity of state, and US bungler at the UN have given Libya to al Qaeda and reduced Libyan oil shipments, most of which went to the US and NATO, by 90%. This helps keep the price of oil at about $100 per barrel and gives more money to Sunni Arab Gulf states whose citizens donate to al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other islamic insurgent groups. The worthless morons who lead the US are the chief financial backers of islamic insurgents. They give aid and comfort to the enemies of the US in a time of war, the Constitution’s definition of treason. US leaders should be impeached, removed from office, tried, convicted, and executed for treason.

Readers should remember that the Obama regime illegally exceeded the UN resolution. Instead of a “No Fly Zone,” the Obama regime and NATO became the Libyan Rebel Air Force to defeat Kaddafi, and, by that action, US and NATO leaders made themselves war criminals. The African Union and China condemned the exceeding of the Security Council resolution, but the US and NATO ignored them. Fortunately, US trade with Africa fell after 2011 while China’s trade has grown by double digits each year. The US and NATO deserve the damages to their economies because they created the problems for themselves.

Dec 04, 2013 4:51pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.