I am happy for Libyans that they have toppled, with just a bit of help from NATO, the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi. Many Libyans have shown great courage and resilience which may serve as an example to other oppressed peoples in North Africa and the Middle East.
The end of a dictatorship however does not immediately result in a democracy, let alone one with human rights and rule of law. Today’s “liberation speech” by Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the head of the Transitional National Council, demonstrated that everyone in Libya must remain alert about which direction the country will head to:
Mr Jalil pledged to repeal all laws that didn’t conform with Islamic law, the Shariah. This not only overstepped the authority of the Transitional (!) National Council, but it was even more worrying because one of the two examples chosen was the marriage law. (The other was a populist promise to outlaw the charging of interest.)
Apparently, in the view of some Libyan revolutionaries, when you have just brought a 42-year dictatorship to an end and won a bloody civil war, when oil needs to be pumped, jobs need to be created, a constitution to be drafted and elections to be organised, one of the most important and urgent tasks is to make it easier for men to marry a second wife.
One minister of the temporary cabinet explained – without any intended irony, I assume – that this would happen in the interest of women: “A lot of young ladies lost their husbands in the battle” and they would want to remarry quickly. – So, it’s polygamy for the sake of women‘s rights? Because apparently Libyan women are just as crazy for a wedding as women all over the world, and they have no other problems to worry about.
Is this what Libyans fought for? Is this what Libyans died for? Is this what NATO bombed for?