Islamic Sharia Law to be Implemented in Libya

As part of its recent adoption of Sharia, the Libyan government announced a rough timetable for the implementation of Islamic banking and finance.

"It is our duty to apply Sharia," Economy Minister Mustafa Abufanas said last week during a 2-day Islamic finance conference in Tripoli.

"We will start this year," Press Solidarity quoted the minister as saying Monday (January 6th) at the Corinthia Hotel.

The move comes a month after the General National Congress (GNC) voted unanimously that Islamic law would be the source of legislation in Libya.

All state institutions are obligated to abide by the decision.

"Sharia is the source of legislation in Libya while all other provisions that violate it are void," GNC spokesman Omar Humaidan said after the law was passed December 4th.

But news of the implementation of Sharia in Libya is raising some concerns among citizens.

"Libyans are generally religiously moderate and do not encourage extremism," former health minister Fatima Hamroush said.

But while Libyans "are not opposed to a constitution and laws in line with sharia", Dr Hamroush said, "they do not accept the politicisation of religion, or its use for political gains".

"This is what the sons and daughters of Libya fear the most… that a group of radicals take ownership of the country," she told Magharebia.

"The application of Sharia, as per the understanding of militant extremists, will certainly lead to the denial of women's rights, since their interpretation of religion follows their whims and instincts," the former minister added.

Libyans say it is not so much the idea of Sharia as the foundation for legislation as it is the possible misuse.

Even though women's rights are protected under international law, "fatwas and religious advocates of militancy have impacted public policies on the treatment of women", said Nozha Mansouri, a lecturer at Omar al-Mukhtar University in Benghazi.

"There is no fear of the real Islam, the tolerant and pure, which is based on co-operation and tolerance among human beings. However, the sharia of the graduates of Kandahar and Afghanistan does not represent me," noted Ahlam Ben Tabon, a Tripoli civil society activist.

Benghazi high school teacher Nusseibeh Salem pointed out: "Islam is no longer one but many - the Islam of the Muslim Brotherhood, salafi Islam, moderate Islam, obscurantist Islam, etc, and Libya's future depends on legislation by whichever stream reaches power."

"Abuses could follow the triumph of obscurantist Islam, but equity is possible if moderation wins," Salem adds.

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