October 26, 2011

The New Libyan Democracy

A few days ago, a good friend and one who knows me very well, informed me that Gaddafi was dead before I'd even had the chance to check the news for that day. Perhaps he was trying to inspire me to write my next post on the subject but I chose to keep quiet and wait for the excitement to fade down. I was also giving myself some time to process and reflect upon what had happened. But yesterday another friend emailed an article and after reading it, I could no longer remain in silence.

According to this article, the president of Libya's National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, announced last sunday that the Sharia, or Islamic code of conduct, would be the main source of legislation for the new Libya and that any laws that contradict the Sharia will be nullified. He said for example that polygamy will now be legal. Hooray right? In some countries where Islamic law is strictly enforced women are not allowed to drive or to vote. I suppose one must respect others' religious beliefs but there are certain universal human rights we should all be allowed no matter who our God is. Not sure about you, but I find it difficult to understand how a country where women don't have the right to vote can be considered a democracy. I wonder how Libyan women feel about this new government. I'm sure a few smart ones will be trying to get the hell out.

According to Islam, men and women are equals. Yet one of the most controversial Quran verses, 4:34 states that "Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand (taken from quran.com). As many bible verses, Quran verses can be looked at in many different ways so it basically all comes down to interpretation.

Obviously Abdul-Jalil's comments were not well received by the international community. He actually issued a press statement the next day to reassure the unhappy folks that the new government would be led by moderate Muslims. But just how moderate and under whose interpretation? He could not understand why the press made such a big deal about his original announcement. Hmmmm really? At this point, one can only hope the best for the sake of the Libyan people.

Many are happy that Gaddafi is finally dead and perhaps rightly so. There is overwhelming evidence that his regime was both corrupt and violent. But personally I like to always look at both sides of a story because things are seldom black and white. The press can make or break anyone. The guy certainly made some decisions that made him highly unpopular with the big boys like proposing the nationalization of Libya's oil reserve a couple of years ago. And we know what happens when a country doesn't want to play ball with the big boys. More recently, he was advocating for the unification of African countries and pushing for the introduction of a single African currency made from gold. This would've had a disastrous impact on the Dollar and Euro, and therefore the world's economy.

I'm not condoning dictatorships but let's not forget some dictators have done more for their countries and people than governments who claim to be democratic. Chavez and Castro are good examples. Under Fidel's leadership and without the support of the US and other world powers, Cuba has become one of the best countries in the world to live in, in terms of quality of life. Cuban people, for example, enjoy some of the best quality free health care and education. According to UNICEF, the adult literacy rate in Cuba between 2005 and 2008 was 100%. How many countries can say that? There is still no excuse for not allowing democratic elections but sometimes uneducated masses can benefit from a little "tough" love in the same way a child would from his parents.

I'm not saying some of these dictators haven't done awful things but then again, doesn't this happen in many other countries who take pride in calling themselves a democracy? Perhaps some are better than others at covering their tracks and overall, have a much more refined PR system in place. Gaddafi tortured and killed many of his opposers but we've all heard stories about what happens down in Guantanamo Bay and prisoners are certainly not receiving a 5-star treatment there. There are lots of videos showing Gaddafi's armed forces and supporters killing innocent civilians but in the chaos of war it must be difficult to differentiate between those who have the potential to harm you and those who have no intentions. I guess one would not know unless put in that situation but I'm willing to bet staying alive would be the highest priority. And what about the dozens of Gaddafi supporters found dead with gunshot wounds through the back of the heads and hands tied? No one really seems to be talking much about that. Although supposedly US Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz raised these concerns in Washington and asked for a proper investigation.

Several videos have been going around on the Internet showing Gaddafi was alive when he was captured, and how he was teased and abused by rebel fighters. One particularly disturbing shows a rebel sticking some sort of an object, a stick or a knife, up his butt. I would not wish such things even to my own worst enemy. The official story is that he died from his wounds while in captivity but that is very difficult to believe somehow.

For the curious ones out there, here are a couple of videos posted on YouTube. The first shows a different side of Gaddafi and some of the things he has done for his people. The second looks at the other possible reasons why Libya was invaded.


  1. I will always believe that there is no such thing as a "perfect" form of government. All the forms that exist today and have existed in the past were erected because (at that time) it seemed to be the "appropriate/right" thing to create. Through time and trail and error do we discover the positives and negatives of everything.
    Governments fall, civilizations are lost and empires crumble. The only thing that lasts beyond these things is religion... interesting... wouldn't you say?

  2. No doubt. No government or form of government is perfect because they rely on people to make it work, and people are certainly not perfect. Even those who start out with the best intentions tend to lose perspective, to say the least, somewhere down the line. Religion has its ups and downs as well but faith in itself is what keeps us all going, even if some people don't like to admit it.

  3. I like how you use the word faith. I've always considered it separate from religion. Faith seems instinctual and personal while religion is clearly man made and governed.

  4. Eso.. faith and spirituality not the same as religion :)

  5. You wrote the comment at 4:44, and to be honest, like more and more your body of work, little miss Zaura. Keep it on!

  6. As you said Luis, numerology is all around us! Thank you and hope you keep reading :)