By Libya Herald reporter.
Tripoli, 26 May 2015:
The Tripoli-based continuing General . . .[restrict]National Congress has amended Article No. 1 of the Constitutional Declaration of August 2011 and declared Libya to be a “Muslim state” with Sharia law the source of legislation. Any law that contradicts the Sharia will be invalid.
There is some confusion, however, about the exact wording of the amendment. In the official statement published today by the GNC, Libya is declared a “Muslim state”. However, on the GNC’s English-language Facebook page, this is translated as an “Islamic state”).
According to the Facebook page, Article No 1 of the Declaration, which serves as Libya’s interim constitution, now reads:
Libya is an Islamic state wherein the people are the source of powers. The city of Tripoli shall be the capital of the state. Islam is the religion of the state and the Islamic law (Shari’a) is the source of legislation. Any legislation or act [that] contradicts the Shari’a shall be invalid. The state shall guarantee for non Muslims the freedom of practicing their religious rituals.
Previously article No. 1 of the Declaration read:
Libya is an independent Democratic State wherein the people are the source of powers. The city of Tripoli shall be the capital of the State. Islam is the Religion of the State and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Shari’a). The State shall guarantee for non- Moslems the freedom of practicing religious rituals. Arabic is its official language. The State shall guarantee the cultural rights for all components of the Libyan society and its languages shall be deemed national ones.
Usually, the term “a Muslim state” means that the people is the country are overwhelmingly or all Muslim, which has always been the case in Libya. An Islamic state is understood to mean one where the political system is Islamic and Sharia the law. Thus Saudi Arabia is called an Islamic state; Algeria is not, but it is a Muslim one.
The decision to use the term “a Muslim state” in the Arabic amendment but appearing to mean in this case “an Islamic state” is thought to be an attempt to draw a line between Libya and the Islamic State, otherwise known as Daesh, with its allegiance to its “caliph” Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and which controls Derna, Nufalya and Sirte, as well as parts of Iraq and Syria, and operating with horrific brutality.
That the GNC means “an Islamic state” is clear from the statement that the Sharia is the source of legislation and that any legislation or act [that] contradicts the Sharia shall be invalid. It is not clear, however, if the members of the largely Islamist rump Congress intend Sharia courts to replace the existing ones.
Attempts to contact members of the GNC for an explanation as why the term “Muslim state” has been used have so far been unsuccessful.
It is not known either if the reference to Arabic being the state language and cultural and linguistic rights for the country’s ethnic minorities being safeguarded has been dropped, as the GNC Facebook page implies.
Despite retaining the phrase in Article 1 that “the people are the source of powers”, the GNC last week decided to drop the term “In the name of the people” from legislation. An announcement of the decision was made only today.