Will Libya go the way of Egypt?
It is now fairly widely acknowledged that what was hoped for in Egypt after its “Arab spring” revolution began is increasingly unlikely to happen. Namely the emergence of a secular and democratic government which will bring stability, peace and prosperity to its nation. The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood wasn’t unexpected to those who understood the dynamics of such revolutions. Nature abhors a vacuum. Power does as well. When the Mubarak regime fell, it created just such a power vacuum. And just as with nature, something was bound to fill that vacuum. In situations like the one in Egypt, that’s usually the most organized and ruthless group available. Unsurprisingly, that group was the Muslim Brotherhood, and Egypt, like a good number of other states in the area, appears to be headed down the long road to Islamic fundamentalism where Islam and sharia dominate the culture with the usual results.
As Libya goes through the final throes of ousting a dictator, one has to ask what the dominant group might be to fill the power vacuum created there. We know the Transnational National Council (TNC) is that supposed vehicle for taking power. But who are they?
Claire Lopez at Big Peace does a little research and gives us an idea. First, she starts by reading the proposed constitution put forward by the TNC and points to the reality that document promises :
Part of that reality is actually on full display with the online posting of Libya’s “Draft Constitutional Charter for the Transitional Stage. As the equally level-headed Dr. Andrew Bostom wrote in his 22 August 2011 posting, “the salient feature of Libya’s new draft constitution is Part 1, Article 1: Islam is the Religion of the State, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia).” [emphasis added]
For those still unsure of what is actually happening in Libya, that Article, which places Islamic law (shariah) at the very top of the constitution, means that principles Jeffersonian republicans consider foundational to a democratic system—such as equality, individual freedom, pluralism, tolerance, minority protections, consent of the governed, natural rights/natural law derived through exercise of human reason, independent (secular) judiciary, and a vibrant free press—even if mentioned later in the draft text, have no real validity. It is what comes first and is stated explicitly in the constitution that carries the real weight. In Libya’s case, that means Islamic law.
Among some that revelation will elicit the reply, “well we don’t know that. We don’t know that such a declaration will really have the effect that critics are claiming”. Of course, you have to deny the reality in the vast majority of states in the Middle East where Islam is the state religion and sharia the legal system to say such a thing.
Secondly, Libya is a country with no real experience with western democracy, philosophy or ideals. For at least 40 years, individual rights have been trampled. “Natural law” consisted of Gaddafi dictating and the people obeying. The organs of such a hoped for revolutionary change simply don’t exist in Libya. But what does exist is an organization of Islamists bent on taking power. What one has to realize is they believe what they are going to try to do is what is best for both the country and the people. And they have help:
Those taking over are no less a cause for concern: as Walid Phares points out in his insightful Fox News analysis of 23 August 2011, the Libyan TNC is a motley crew comprising “former diplomats, bureaucrats, and military officers from the old regime” as well as “politicians and leaders from movements and groups from the political left, Marxists, Socialists, Arab Nationalists, liberals and Islamists.” As in Egypt and elsewhere across the region, however, it is the proponents of shariah who are the best organized and most determined to impose their agenda in the post-revolutionary milieu. Their push for power in Libya already is underway, openly supported by Yousuf al-Qaradawi and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and will accelerate from positions within the TNC as its grip on the country is consolidated.
Emphasis mine and an argument I’ve been making prominently since Egypt. There is nothing at all to indicate that it will be any different in Libya. What most in the West, who have a different take on the involvement of religion in everyday life means, is that Islam is woven into the very fabric of the life of most adherents and is more than something they do once a week. It is going to be interesting to see how NATO and the US handle this, but when all is said and done, I expect to see another “Islamic Republic” in place, mostly hostile to the West and Israel and with its people again under the boot heel of another form of dictatorship – this time religious in nature.