Libya’s new leaders proclaimed independence from 42-years of rule by Col. Muammar Gaddafi Sunday, following the iron fist leader’s much publicized death last Thursday. The day of proclamation was filled with jubilation, excitement, and some unanticipated surprises.
Sunday’s landmark event saw Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) leaders calling upon all Libyans for national unity and to reconcile their differences.
NTC leader Abdul Jalil told the crowds of euphoric people packed into Freedom Square to hear the announcement of Libya’s liberation, “I call on everyone for forgiveness, tolerance and reconciliation.”
He added, “We must get rid of hatred and envy from our souls. This is a necessary matter for the success of the revolution and the success of the future Libya.”
However, Jalil’s announcement also took many Libyans and political analysts by surprise when Jalil announced that the new Libya would adhere to Islamic law saying, “We are an Islamic state.”
Jalil called for policy reforms that would include changes to Libya’s marriage law saying, “We as a Muslim nation have taken Islamic sharia as the source of legislation, therefore any law that contradicts the principles of Islam is legally nullified.”
Jalil also said, “The law of divorce and marriage… This law is contrary to sharia and it is stopped.”
Some commentators have raised concerns that a Libya ruled by Sharia law would not protect and promote freedom and human rights.
One feminist that awaited Jalil’s speech in the packed square told the AFP of Jalil’s Sharia announcement, “It’s shocking and insulting to state, after thousands of Libyans have paid for freedom with their lives, that the priority of the new leadership to allow men to marry in secret.”
She added, “We did not slay Goliath so that we now live under the Inquisition.”
Similar concerns surround another Arab Spring country, Egypt, particularly considering the military ruled government has recently delayed elections and Coptic Christians faced a deadly outburst of violence in the country only weeks ago.
Meanwhile, while Libya’s transitional government works to divide political power in the months ahead before scheduled June 2012 elections, the corpse of the slain Gaddafi remains in a refrigerated room in Misrata, on display for public viewing, yet to be buried.