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Libyan leader seeks to calm West on Sharia fears

October 25, 2011 • World News


Libyan Transitional National Council chairman Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, center, receives a Libyan flag amid Libyan veterans after a press conference in Benghazi, Libya, Monday Oct. 24, 2011. Libya’s transitional leader has ordered an investigation into the death of Moammar Gadhafi after the U.S. and other international powers pressed for the probe.(AP Photo/Francois Mori)

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — After giving a speech that emphasized the Islamization of Libya, the head of the transitional government on Monday tried to reassure the Western powers who helped topple Moammar Gadhafi that the country’s new leaders are moderate Muslims.

Just as in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, Islamists have emerged from yet another Arab Spring uprising as the most powerful group in the country. How far they will go will be decided at the ballot box — in Tunisia this week, in Egypt in November and in Libya within eight months.

National Transitional Council leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil said Sunday that Islamic Sharia law would be the main source of legislation, that laws contradicting its tenets would be nullified, and that polygamy would be legalized.

“I would like to assure the international community that we as Libyans are moderate Muslims,” said Abdul-Jalil, who added that he was dismayed by the focus abroad on his comments Sunday on polygamy. A State Department spokeswoman said the U.S. was encouraged that he had clarified his earlier statement.

The stir created by Abdul-Jalil’s address in Benghazi, the eastern Libyan city where the anti-Gadhafi uprising was born in mid-February, came as international pressure mounted on him to investigate the circumstances of Gadhafi’s death.

Abdul-Jalil ordered an inquiry to establish whether the deposed Libyan leader was killed in an execution-style slaying after being captured alive Thursday by fighters in his hometown of Sirte or whether he died in the crossfire as government officials have suggested.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland reiterated U.S. support for a full investigation but said “it’s now time for Libya to move on.” She endorsed the NTC’s proposed timeline for next steps in the democratic transition, and said Libyans “with no blood on their hands” must be ensured “a place in the new Libya, and that they are safe and they are included.”

She also called a Human Rights Watch report that dozens of Gadhafi supporters were found dead with bullet wounds in the back of the head and their hands tied, “extremely disturbing.” She said U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz raised Washington’s concerns with the council and asked them to conduct another investigation.

Gadhafi’s body went on public display since Friday in a Login to read more

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