Sunday, October 23, 2011

Libya Nostalgic for the 7th Century

The 7th century was the century during which the religion of Islam was founded and subsequently spread across Western Asia and Northern Africa via the Muslim conquests.  Since then, Muslims societies have advanced (or liberalized) inconsistently, with some remaining relatively primitive and with others modernizing significantly (in various ways).

There exist about 46 sovereign nations with Muslim majority populations.  These countries are located in Northern Africa (examples: Mauritania, Tunisia and Morocco), Western Asia (examples: Azerbaijan, Yemen, and Iraq), Central Asia (examples: Afghanistan, Iran, and Uzbekistan), South Asia (examples: the Maldives, Pakistan, and Bangladesh), Southeast Asia (examples: Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia), Subsaharan Africa (examples: Somalia, Niger, and Djibouti), and even Europe (Albania and its sovereignty-lacking neighbor, Kosovo).  A full list of countries by Muslim population is available here.  Interestingly, one of the least Muslim countries in the world, Armenia, is located very close to the Middle East.  And something else I found interesting was another country with a very low Muslim population, Malta, is both located very close to Tunisia and has an official language, Maltese, that is derived from Arabic.  

Now, my nerdy inclinations and their requisite history and geography lessons aside, the newly liberated nation of Libya (or at least its de facto interim president) appears to be nostalgic for the aforementioned 7th century (h/t Instapundit):
Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council and de fact president, had already declared that Libyan laws in future would have Sharia, the Islamic code, as its "basic source". 
But that formulation can be interpreted in many ways - it was also the basis of Egypt's largely secular constitution under President Hosni Mubarak, and remains so after his fall. 
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.  
Libya is already the most conservative state in north Africa, banning the sale of alcohol. Mr Abdul-Jalil's decision - made in advance of the introduction of any democratic process - will please the Islamists who have played a strong role in opposition to Col Gaddafi's rule and in the uprising but worry the many young liberal Libyans who, while usually observant Muslims, take their political cues from the West.
Given Obama's and the United States' role in the usurpation of Muammar Gaddafi's rule over Libya by the rebels, I believe he has the responsibility to ensure that the new Libyan government doesn't reduce the freedom that Libyans have.  It is irresponsible, and probably dangerous, to allow an Islamofascist to return Libya to its state of tyranny (not that that will necessarily happen, but it becomes more likely with the incorporation of Sharia law into Libyan law).  Furthermore, the West doesn't need more enemies, and Sharia law is already undermining Western values in Europe.  If Obama cares about Western, Judeo-Christain-based values (which is questionable), he should not sit idly by during Libya's transition.  

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