Blow to Islamists: Libya bans religious parties from government
Decision comes before country's first general elections since the fall of Khadafi
A new law that bans parties that are based on religious principles has
been passed by Libya's ruling National Transitional Council, or NTC. The
law, passed this week, comes two months ahead of the country's first
general elections to choose a 200-member assembly to compose a new
constitution and form a new government.
The law, passed this week, comes two months ahead of the country's first general elections to choose a 200-member assembly to compose a new constitution and form a new government.
NTC spokesman Mohamed al-Hareizi says the provision was designed to preserve "national unity.
"Parties shouldn't be based on ethnic or religious ideologies," he said. "We don't want the government to be divided by these ideological differences."
Al-Hareizi did not make clear how this would affect a political party formed last month by Libya's Muslim Brotherhood and other religious groups.
The Muslim Brotherhood was expected to make a strong showing in the election, the first since last year's overthrow of Moammar Khadafi in a NATO-backed popular uprising.
"This is not democracy," Mohamed Gaira, spokesman for the Freedom and Development party founded by the Muslim Brotherhood said. "We don't understand this law ... It could mean nothing, or it could mean that none of us can participate in the election," he added.
"We are a nationalist party and Islam is our religion. This law is unacceptable and only suits liberals."
Mohamed Sawan, the head of the Freedom and Development Party, said the NTC needed to reiterate what it meant by banning religious parties, saying this would cause controversy in conservative Libya, whose population of six million is made up almost entirely of Sunni Muslims.
"This kind of clause is only useful in countries where there exists many religions, not in Libya where most people are religious Muslims," Sawan says.
"This law needs to be reviewed by the NTC and if it's not changed, we would have to protest it."
Libya's NTC has already indicated that the country will be run in accordance with sharia, the strict guidelines favored by most Islamic nations. The exact place of Islamic law in the legal system will be settled only once a new constitution is written after elections.
Political analysts say the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to emerge as Libya's most organized political force and an influential player in the oil-exporting state where Islamists, like all dissidents, were harshly suppressed during the 42 years of Gaddafi's dictatorial rule.
Islamic political parties have performed strongly in post-uprising elections in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco since October, after the Arab spring. Islamic groups are also likely to do well in Libya, a socially conservative country where alcohol was already banned before the 2011 revolution.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Libya, Muslim Brotherhood, Islam, religion, new government
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