Sharia Law and the Future of Libya

Article excerpt

Name a single Arab or Islamic state, which, after a revolution that has overthrown a dictator, came to embrace political pluralism, religious tolerance and equal rights for women.

You can't, can you?

The U.S. State Department publishes an annual report on human rights practices in Arab states. It consistently finds all are ruled by variations of dictatorial regimes that oppress their people, deny basic freedoms of press, speech and due process, and are intolerant of any faith other than Islam, punishing converts to other faiths (a capital offense in some Islamic nations) and anyone who shares other faiths with their people.

The Arab Human Development Report, sponsored by the United Nations Development Program and authored by Arab scholars, examined the world's seven regions. It ranks Arab countries lowest according to their "freedom score."

That is the popular definition of insanity? Isn't it repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results?

After months of uprisings in Arab nations from Egypt to Yemen, we are now faced with one in Libya, which appears to have ousted Moammar Gadhafi. As with the other nations engaged in revolution, what follows is yet to be determined. So is a judgment on whether the replacements will be any better than their predecessors.

In Libya, the National Transition Council (NTC) has published online what purports to be a draft constitution for the new state. It contains much that sounds good and at least one section that ought to be cause for serious concern. The good stuff includes "guarantees," such as, "The state shall guarantee for woman all opportunities which shall allow her to participate entirely and actively in political, economic and social spheres." (Article 6) And "The State shall guarantee for non-Muslims the freedom of practicing religious rights and shall guarantee respect for their systems of personal status." (Article 1)

There is much else to commend in the draft constitution, but then there is this: "Islam is the religion of the State and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia). …