Free Markets, Free People

Libya: Muslim law and secular dreams

If your hope for the latest version of “Arab Spring” to be found in Libya was a secular democratic state, you can quickly forget the secular part of the dream.

The leader of the transitional government declared to thousands of revelers in a sunlit square here on Sunday that Libya’s revolution had ended, setting the country on the path to elections, and he vowed that the new government would be based on Islamic tenets.

Indeed, what has immediately happened is the roll back of many of Gadhafi’s decrees that those who’ve now taken over contend violate Sharia law and Islam’s tenets:

Mr Abdul-Jalil went further, specifically lifting immediately, by decree, one law from Col. Gaddafi’s era that he said was in conflict with Sharia – that banning polygamy.

In a blow to those who hoped to see Libya’s economy integrate further into the western world, he announced that in future bank regulations would ban the charging of interest, in line with Sharia. "Interest creates disease and hatred among people," he said.

I’d love to tell you this comes as a complete surprise, but then I’d be acting like some politicians I know. 

I’m certainly not going to contend that keeping Gadhafi was the best thing we could do, but let’s be clear, what has happened darn sure doesn’t seem to be an outcome that we’d have hoped to see either.  At least as it now seems to be shaking out.

In that area of the world, secular dreams seem to me to be the most foolish.  How that particular dream manages to stay alive among the elite of the West is beyond me.  It isn’t now nor has it ever been a probable outcome of any of these so-called “Arab Spring” revolutions.  The revolutions are steeped in Islam because the governments being replaced were relatively secular for the area and the Islamic groups now rising were the ones being repressed.

How someone could believe that out of that situation, secular democracy would emerge still remains beyond me.  No democratic history, no real established democratic institutions and no real democratic experience by the people there.  Yet somehow we’ve determined that this bunch is superior to the last bunch.

Based on what I’ve always wondered?

Yet, we continue to hear the hope proclaimed in each upheaval even as reality seems to dismiss the hope at every turn.


Twitter: @McQandO

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21 Responses to Libya: Muslim law and secular dreams

  • The London Telegraph article Drudge links to is headline, “Libya’s liberation: interim ruler unveils more radical than expected plans for Islamic law.”
    Unexpectedly! — It’s not just for economic news anymore.
    –Ed Driscoll
    Soft power.

  • “How someone could believe that out of that situation, secular democracy would emerge still remains beyond me.  No democratic history, no real established democratic institutions and no real democratic experience by the people there.  Yet somehow we’ve determined that this bunch is superior to the last bunch.”
    These are the same elites who think socialism will work because they’re superior to the last bunch of socialist redistributionists.
    The same bunch who think increased government deficit spending will stimulate the economy,
    The same bunch who think that there’s magic in government taking money from the private sector and handing it back out in  benefits to cause a mysterious economic multiplier effect to appear.
    The same kinds of people who think they are promoting proper immigration policy by preventing states from implementing immigration policies.
    That failure to increase spending by x percent and increasing it only y percent is really a x-y percent cut in spending.
    They think intention = reality.
    And the best part of all, they believe every foreign ruler or government has the best intentions, but that average Americans are fanatic fundamentalist threats to a way of life they themselves have long ago twisted and perverted into the present essentially bankrupt state.

  • Congrats Mr. Obama…..MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

    And to all the Dems like Kos and Hillary etc. who did a victory lap for Ofailure when Qadaffi got the coup de gras……you own what comes next champs.

  • Glad you mention this.  I am currently going through Rumsfield’s book on the Bush era, and what has struck me is that after Iraq, the one dictator the US has gone after in the Middle East also happens to be the one dictator who gave up WMD.  I really don’t think that’s good for the US in the long run.  No love for Ghaddafi himself, but of all the dictators in the Middle East, we went after him.  Really?  What about Syria?  Support for Islamic Terrorists:  check.  Pursuit of WMD: check.  So, we go after Ghaddafi. Yeah, that makes sense.

    Sorry.  End of rant.

    • When you perceive yourself as the “short man” in the room, you go for the low-hanging fruit.
      “Soft power” is like “ramping docility”.  A true relativist torturing of the language.

  • Anything that leads to instability in the Middle East is potentially good for the United States.
    Why wouldn’t we expect Islam to be front and center in any change of government? It’s part of the culture. Read some Bernard Lewis.
    And please, let’s not brag about how this was accomplished without the loss of one American GI. If that’s our metric, then the Civl War was a disaster for the United States. Suppose we could have achieved a durable secular government and the control of all of Qaddafi’s poison gas and MANPADs with the loss of 100 Americans. Would that have been worse? A victory with low casualties is only something to celebrate if we achieved a worthwhile objective.
    This victory makes me feel like the President just bought a new car for sticker price and he’s bragging about what a good deal he got on the rust proof undercoating and the scotch guarded interior.

    • Wasn’t the objective to prevent Ghaddafi using his heavy military hardware against civilians? No, wait, it was to provide an air-arm to support the rebels who’d otherwise be crushed. Wait, what week is it, what is the story now? Oh yeah, he’s dead and the UN isn’t happy about it so they are demanding someone arrest his remaining son so he can stand trial. Pity there’s no troops on the ground to do that, just rebels bent on vengeance. Next week, why did the Arab spring produce more Islamist states when the Western powers refused to step forward and ensure that that was what happened? More likely just more sounds of crickets chirping as Egypt kills a few more religious minorities and the Libyan Islamists start rounding up Christians, gays and tweeters. Funny thing about the supporters of smart wars like this, they go awful quiet when the blindingly obvious happens when they don’t stick around to do the heavy lifting after the bad guy is dead.

      Seems to me the US under Obama is heading back to the mid/late 90s where they thought dropping a few bombs, avoiding American casualties and getting some dead bad guys was sufficient to ensure world peace whilst continuing to gut the defence budgets. In other words, keep on kicking that can down the road.

      • “Wasn’t the objective to prevent Ghaddafi using his heavy military hardware against civilians? No, wait, it was to provide an air-arm to support the rebels who’d otherwise be crushed. Wait, what week is it, what is the story now?”
        Like any other progressive trope Doc, it was whatever they wanted it to be whenever they were talking about it.  Mere mortals such as ourselves should not deign to question the Humpty Dumpties.  But never fear they’re off on a different path now, we’re to have more laws without benefit of Congress.

  • Based on what I’ve always wondered?

    New media, lack of ideology, 21st century socialist thinking, you name it. Find some young girl in Tripoli who can Twitter up an inspiring story for those who prefer style over substance. She’ll turn out to be some fat middle-aged balding bored party apparatchik but by then the twitterati will have moved on to the next in-thing, like smelly ideal-less slackers twittering about crapping on police cars in New York. Because you know, if it is “new media” it will magically happen. In other words, some people never got to see Disneyland and spent the rest of their lives building the equivalent in their heads.

  • “How someone could believe that out of that situation, secular democracy would emerge still remains beyond me.  No democratic history, no real established democratic institutions and no real democratic experience by the people there.  Yet somehow we’ve determined that this bunch is superior to the last bunch.”

    I agree wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, I think this also applies to Afghanistan and, to a lesser extent, Iraq.

  • Ah, Arab Spring, the soap that will wash the Caliphate free of apostates and infidels.

    • It’s also the favorite soap of American social science academics and progressive journalists! Its gentle sudsing action washes away progressive guilt about US actions in the Middle East, and leaves them refreshed and ready for another round of reality denial.

      • “gentle sudsing”
        Gentle?   bwaaahahahahahahahahah.   Oh, I expect to be able to display mass graves to a cretin professor before 5 years have passed, and we’ll have had zip all to do with them, other than being unable to prevent them from being filled.

      • And don’t fergit it is a wonderful toothpaste, too!!!
        Leaves your mouth fresh and Enlightenminty…

      • No no gentlemen, what was I thinking, we’re displaying the depths of 20th century thinking.   Of course, it will all turn out for the best, this talk of radical Islam is just foolish, they are no danger to us, they only seek to be free and democratic and will establish progressive governments where all will be allowed to live and let live as they see fit.  I think we’ll be surprised!
        (well, you know, things can’t happen unexpectedly all the time unless you’re surprised, and that fits American social science academics and progressive journalists to a T)

  • Of course it’s not going to become a secular democracy over night.  The West remained Christian in form through most of its modernization.  Islam is not the enemy.  Islam is not bad.  Bin Laden is not Islam, most conservative Muslims who want an Islamic state are not out to attack the West, and there is no reason to fear them.  Trying to suppress them and keep them down is futile, they are the culture and they must be part of the future of Libya.
    The fear some of you show is irrational.  It’s almost comical, as if you’ve created Islam as some kind of boogey man that you cower in fear from.  Reality Check: Most Muslims do not accept Bin Laden’s teachings.  He managed a couple lucky shots, but overall the Islamic world reject that position, even fundamentalists and Islamists.   There is no reason to fear them, no reason to think we can’t work with them.   Like scared children, you guys are imagining some kind of ghost and using that to rationalize fear and loathing.  It is good that the dictators are falling, and good to involve Islamists that are a large part of the culture.  You guys can be scared if you want, but that’s ignorance.  I’m celebrating Obama’s success in Libya, as well as the slow but real changes sweeping across the Arab world.
    If you want to be lost in the 20th Century where you rationalized support of dictators out of fear, go ahead.  The world is passing you by.

    • Islam is not bad.

      Unless you’re a woman, an opponent of theocracy, a follower of any other religion, an atheist, a skeptic, a satirist, a cartoonist, a homosexual, etc..
      Today, in 2011, half the people in many of the most populous Muslim countries are treated as second-class citizens.  In many places, they are not allowed to drive, leave the home unattended, go to school, etc..  Frequently, they are punished if they are the victim of rape, held to an impossibly high standard to prove their innocence.  Apostates and homosexuals are executed.
      Sure, there are plenty of Muslims living in Western, enlightened countries who have given up such hateful, intolerant ideas.  Some Muslim countries are more modern in their outlook and such atrocities and injustices are not a part of the government today.  And, I’m sure a number of people living in the more intolerant countries would choose to advance, if permitted.
      But the facts are that those countries aren’t changing.  Turkey is shifting towards more Islamic influence.  Egypt, likewise, is replacing Mubarak’s rule with a regime hostile to Israel and religious minorities.
      Saying tsk-tsk and pulling your chin about how we shouldn’t fear Islam is of no comfort to all of the victims of tyranny and those in danger, right now, today.  You’re attacking a straw man, pretending that concern for the common people of Libya who may fare worse under a government based on Islamic law is only anti-Muslim bigotry.
      Your whole rant is based upon a false, dishonest premise.

      Bin Laden is not Islam…

      You’re the only one mentioning that guy.  Why are you pretending that others are making such arguments?
      I’ve still not forgotten how you, a guy who passed himself off for many years as a pacifist and even touted your opposition to Clinton’s Serbian actions, cheered the US going to war in Libya at the outset.  That was before you were against it.  And, now that the rebels have one and the dictator is dead, I guess you’re now for it again.  Or something.
      Remember that just because no American troops died doesn’t mean that US munitions didn’t kill innocents.  Also, it doesn’t mean that the government didn’t squander tax dollars of people with fundamental ethical objections to going to war in Libya.
      You no longer get to identify yourself as a pacifist.

  • “I’m celebrating Obama’s success in Libya”
    Ah, is that what you think it is, thank you, now I know for sure it was a colossal if predictable accident.