Former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s capture and subsequent death last Thursday was met with tremendous joy. Qaddafi, without a doubt, was an evil tyrant who terrorized his people for 42 years.
The late Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat characterized Muammar Qaddafi as the “madman” of Tripoli for his reckless, violent behavior. Prior to the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, Qaddafi’s government funded dozens of terror organizations in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. His fomentation of violence ranged from the Philippines to India. Reports during fighting over the last months indicated that Qaddafi distributed Viagra to his troops so that they could rape more women. Dissidents were captured and charged with trumped up crimes. One such case that received international attention involved Eman al-Obeidy, the woman who became a symbol of Libyan resistance when she fought back against the government for suggesting she was “insane” or a prostitute after she accused 15 of Qaddafi’s troops of gang raping her.
But, despite the triumph over Tripoli’s flamboyantly-clad despot, will Libya move from bad to worse? And will the West, which supported Qaddafi’s ouster, lose face if the immediate power vacuum in Libya is filled by Islamic totalitarian entities?
Muammar Qaddafi, killed last week, was known for his outlandish clothing.
The very manner in which Qaddafi was executed can only be described as a vulgar lynching, casting doubt over the likelihood that a post-Qaddafi Libya can maintain a semblance of democracy. On the one hand, such a violent human being was literally dealt the same fate he had bestowed upon so many others. However, not surprisingly, the violation of international standards has been met with calls for an international inquiry—justifiable when one considers Qaddafi did not appear to resist capture. Would it not have been preferable for Libyans to see Qaddafi humiliated in a court of law for his crimes against humanity?
It’s worth noting that since civil war broke in Libya, reports, sometimes underplayed in the Western press, documented the Libyan rebels’ ties to Islamic totalitarian organizations and their penchant for summary killings. Most recently, 53 decomposing bodies of Qaddafi loyalists found in Sirte reconfirm reports that the rebels are no more humane than Qaddafi’s Viagra warriors.
“The Islamists in many of these countries have a disproportionate influence in the immediate vacuum that will happen in the post-departure of dictators,” Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a recognized expert on political Islam and American Islamist organizations, told me in an August interview. “This is why the first few weeks, the first few months, are very important to be involved.”
It looks as if that ship has already sailed.
Less than 72 hours after Qaddafi’s demise, transitional government leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil declared that Islamic law, shariah, would dictate the country’s most “basic” legislation. “We are an Islamic country,” Abdul-Jalil said. “We take the Islamic religion as the core of our new government. The constitution will be based on our Islamic religion.”
The interim government leader was quick to promise Libya would be a “moderate” Muslim state after Libyans and Western governments alike expressed concerns.
But just how moderate will a new Libya be? Among Abdul-Jalil’s reform promises for Libya are Islamic banks and lifting restrictions on the number of females a male can marry, suggesting Islamic law will indeed play a role. Moreover, while he isn’t opposed to the interim government’s expected inquiry into Qaddafi’s death, he is hardly supportive, either. “You have to appreciate the agony that people went through for 42 years,” he said.
While Libyans suffered under Qaddafi, summary execution by a vicious mob can hardly bode well for a future democratic nation where the rule of law—not mob rule—is supposed to be one of its distinguishing characteristics.
To disregard human rights and to implement shariah law merely indicates that Libya may very well be on the path to becoming another Iran—a nation which ousted the Shah only to replace him with a malevolent mullahcracy. In the current circumstances the “Arab Spring” is shaping up to become a “Winter of Discontent” in Libya, frustrating the region’s desire for peace, democracy, and tolerance while fomenting terror and encouraging barbaric theocratic law as an acceptable form of governance.
Reut Cohen is a JPC contributor and author of the blog www.reutrcohen.com.