In response to an article posted on the Economist.com website(*)
on 28th August 2008, I made the following comment:
“Given the entrenched role of religion (Islam), tribal mentality and practices and the vagueness and uncertainties of the policies and policy makers in Libya, it is no surprise that a great deal of shadow is cast over the progress and credibility of Seif al-Islam’s reform program which he embarked upon since 2003 (fully blessed by his father). Deals were made with the Islamists, both the Jihadists and Muslim Brotherhood, whereby they agreed to abandon the political aspects of their ideologies in return for full participation in society, to assist in ridding it of the many ills that resulted from decades of oppressive policies and corruption.
Literacy level in Libya is set around 80%. Despite the vast amounts of money poured in, rampant mismanagement and low quality teaching lead to severe consequences as corruption became the norm at every level and ethical values were abandoned.
One area the Islamists took full advantage of is the relative freedoms given to the media to promote themselves as capable of amalgamating their ideas of political Islam with the revolutionary system in place. As a consequence, they put themselves forward as representing the ordinary Libyan, who is religious by nature, and as the vanguard for saving the country and the society. Whether we like it or not, Islamists, in Muslim countries, will always find a way of promoting and disseminating their ideas among the grass roots and gaining public support when governments fail to deliver. Their ultimate goal is nothing short of a full Islamic state, and once they realise this is not achievable, they will resort back to violent tactics. If this dilemma is not addressed early on, sooner or later the clash will happen again and the country will fold back to square one! It has always been the case that the most ferocious Islamic extremists and terrorists came by as a spin-off the mainstream and so called moderate Islamists. Libya has been a very fertile ground for the nourishment and sustenance of jihadist and extremist ideology, given its social structure, the badly managed economy and the low standard of its educational establishments.
To appease the moderate Islamists, Seif al-Islam declared last year that Islam is a “red line”, along with the leader of the revolution, whereby no criticism will be tolerated under any circumstances. This led to the sidelining of the other more liberal and democratic forces, although he is promoting himself as a liberal! If not retracted, this will result in more human rights violations and more restrictions on personal freedoms, on the basis of adhering to strict Islamic law. ”