Libya's 'Classical Liberal' Sharia Supremacist Leader

Andrew Bostom
This past week's Benghazi hearings refocused attention on statements made by Libyan leader Muhammad al-Muqaryaf [Magariaf] in the immediate aftermath of the murderous 9/11/2012 attacks on the vulnerable U.S. Benghazi diplomatic mission compound.  Al-Muqaryaf, head of Libya's National Congress, reiterated (and elaborated upon) his contentions to Al-Hayat's Raghdah Durgham during an interview published October 1, 2012.

[Durgham] Were you the first to make the mistake of considering what happened to be among the reactions to the anti-Islam film, instead of considering it a terrorist operation?

[Al-Muqaryaf] Since the first seconds after this incident happened on 9/11 I was completely convinced that this act was a premeditated and intentional terrorist act. This video (film) was not disseminated before [could be typographical error for "was disseminated before" as stated in an answer to the question following next], but it is possible that it was taken as justification and pretext. Still, the truth of the matter is that what happened was premeditated and planned according to previous arrangements.

[Durgham] When did you say this to the Americans?

[Al-Muqaryaf] From the first seconds, in my first reaction to what happened.

[Durgham] Then they chose not to believe you?

[Al-Muqaryaf] They certainly have their own way of calculating, assessing, and viewing matters. One can only respect this. But for me, as soon as I learned that this video was disseminated six months ago, it became clear to me that the issue was contrived and that the timing was chosen.

[Durgham] But you told the Americans from the beginning that this was a terrorist act. Why then did they not believe the official word from Libya instead of...

[Al-Muqaryaf] They have their reasons. I do not know these reasons and I have no knowledge about them. But I completely rule out the possibility that this might have been due to a specific intention. I have knowledge and information of course about the presence of these elements in Libya, elements linked to Al-Qa'idah since an early stage, since the days of the revolution itself and the days of the war. I also have information about the presence or infiltration by non-Libyan elements with certain ideological affiliations during a phase months prior to it [revolution].

Al-Muqaryaf's candor has proven a useful adjunct to the concrete e-mail evidence which emerged from the Benghazi hearings (and beyond -- see here, here) exposing the Obama administration's deliberately mendacious narrative.  But notwithstanding Al-Muqaryaf's steadfast refusal to abide the Obama administration's deceitfully redacted false scenario -- constructed to uphold its politically contrived Big Lie about "the demise of al-Qaeda" -- unwarranted hagiographic assessments of the Libyan leader have been put forth by typically informed conservatives.  For example, although nested within a harsh overall critique of the Libyan intervention, this romanticized assessment of  Al-Muqaryaf himself was provided by National Review's Andrew McCarthy:

He [Al-Muqaryaf ] was among Qaddafi's most prominent enemies, and is reputed to be a liberal in the classic sense, supporting free elections and free speech, as well as equality among citizens and between the sexes.

McCarthy's characterization of Al-Muqaryaf as "a liberal in the classic sense" was subsequently repeated by Rush Limbaugh, verbatim -- sans the weak qualifier "reputed."

Stated bluntly, these romantic characterizations do not withstand scrutiny.  Al-Muqaryaf is not a "classical liberal."  Rather, he is a sharia supremacist, both in his words and in his conduct of Libyan state affairs.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2012, Al-Muqaryaf articulated a "vision" of (expected) treacly Islamic apologetics, and boilerplate Islamic Jew-hatred, vis-à-vis Israel.  But Al-Muqaryaf's statements also belied his sharia-based rejection of free speech, melded in seamless if unwitting contradiction to expressed endorsement of "democracy," "openness," and "freedom" itself.

We shall defeat the plots of the backward terrorists that do not represent Libya, who do not represent Islam. Islam is a religion of tolerance, peace and love.

 

We condemn Israel' s measures in attempting to judaize the occupied land and its violations of human rights, international humanitarian law. This calls on the international community to take its responsibilities by taking urgent strong measures to put an end to Israeli aggression and assure a full protection to Palestinians as well as a radical solution to the question of Palestine through a durable settlement assuring the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied lands and return of all Palestinian refugees to their homes.

 

[T]he new Libya shall be based on democracy, openness, transparency, combating corruption, enabling women and youths. It will be a Libya by all and for all. At the same time, I cannot fail to condemn the anti-Islam campaigns and those defaming its Prophet. Such campaigns increase hatred. They aim at provocation and tension in relations amongst civilizations. They go beyond the concept of free expression. This makes it necessary for the General Assembly of the United Nations to adopt a covenant in order to criminalize the insulting of the symbols of all religions.

Shortly after this September 27 U.N. address, he made his sharia supremacist views plain.  During a London interview on October 1, 2012, Al-Muqaryaf, while claiming that Libyans ostensibly desired a "constitutional, democratic, civil" and "secular state," added this profound caveat:

But this does not mean at all that the constitution or any laws and legislation should contain anything that clashes with or is in contradiction to Islamic sharia and its objectives.

He reiterated that viewpoint at the inauguration ceremony of the Maydan al-Shuhada (Martyrs' Square) Mosque in the northwestern Libyan city of Al-Zawiyah three weeks later (October 21, 2012).  After thanking the denizens of Al-Zawiyah for inviting him and members of the (Libyan) General National Congress to take part in "laying down the cornerstones of Allah's house [i.e., the Maydan al-Shuhada Square mosque]," Al-Muqaryaf proclaimed:

On this occasion I want to reassure you that the constitution is laid down in a Muslim country, with all its residents Muslim, and it cannot rely on anything other than Islamic Shari'ah as the fundamental source of legislation in the country.

Al-Muqaryaf further noted that the GNC planned to prepare and issue several draft laws relating to "abolishing the law of interest [in the banking system]" -- a statement which elicited applause from the crowd -- before adding, "This has been an essential entitlement for us for a long time."

Since at least April 2012, foreign Christians within Libya have experienced attacks -- two Egyptian Christians were killed when a bomb exploded in the Coptic Church of Misrata during January, 2013.  Christian religious icons and cemeteries have been desecrated and Christians arrested for the alleged "crime" of proselytizing.  Regarding the sharia-based offense of proselytizing, a Libyan security official  told Reuters:

Proselytizing is forbidden in Libya. We are a 100% Muslim country and this kind of action affects our national security.

Bilal Bettamer, identified as a Benghazi lawyer and human rights activist, affirmed that Libya is an exclusively Muslim country which should not accept Christian proselytization.  Bettamer claimed:

It is disrespectful. If we had Christianity we could have dialogue, but you can't just spread Christianity.

He added:

The maximum penalty is the death penalty. It's a dangerous thing to do.

Yet on the same day it was reported that four Christians were arrested in Benghazi, February 17, 2013, for proselytization, Muhammad Al-Muqaryaf gave a speech, also in Benghazi, marking the second anniversary of the 2011 uprising and pledging once again that sharia would underpin Libya's constitution.  This juxtaposition was symbolic, not fortuitous, as borne out by more recent events.

It was reported less than a month ago (April 14, 2013), for example, that the Libyan Ministry of Social Affairs endorsed a fatwa from the Grand Mufti, Sheikh Sadeq Al-Ghariani, prohibiting Libyan women from marrying foreigners.  As described in English-language Libya Herald,  

Al-Ghariani's call came after he apparently received several complaints from Libyan citizens. These, he said, included allegations that some Christian, Shiites and Druze from different countries have been taking advantage of the chaotic state of the country's administration to marry Libyan women and make them convert to different religions. An official at the Ministry of Social Affairs told the Libya Herald...that the government has temporarily suspended issuing foreign marriage licenses for Libyan women until proper laws and regulations are in place. The final decision on the Mufti's ruling had been passed to the government by the Supreme Court.

Finally, as reported April 25, 2013, Libya's Grand Mufti Al-Ghariani (perhaps emboldened by the Libyan government's recent endorsement of his fatwa banning Libyan women from marrying foreigners), responding to what he characterized as burgeoning number of complaints to the Fatwa (religious ruling) office, is now demanding gender segregation at educational and financial establishments as well as at universities, government offices, companies, and hospitals.

Most Libyans, he maintained, "were calling for the application of Sharia Law."  Moreover, he noted that everyone in a Muslim nation anticipated that:

... special priority to be given to Islamic moral values in a manner that would preserve the nation's Islamic identity and faith and to take this matter seriously before it incurs the wrath of God.

Al-Ghariani directed his open letter demand for an end to such "immoral" gender-mixing to the Al-Muqaryaf , president of the General National Congress, the prime minister, other members of Congress and the government, as well as militia leaders and civil society organizations.  As of this writing, I could find no evidence that Al-Muqaryaf -- the alleged "classical liberal" champion of "equality among citizens and between the sexes" -- has rejected Al-Ghariani's latest demands.

Libyan President Muhammad Al-Muqaryaf should be characterized as the (sadly) commonplace sharia supremacist Muslim leader he in fact appears to be.  As such, Al-Muqaryaf is the apotheosis of the "(Bernard) Lewis doctrine's" failed utopian aspirations.  He most assuredly does not represent the unfulfilled realization of that misbegotten policy construct, cynically undermined by the machinations of the Obama administration.

This past week's Benghazi hearings refocused attention on statements made by Libyan leader Muhammad al-Muqaryaf [Magariaf] in the immediate aftermath of the murderous 9/11/2012 attacks on the vulnerable U.S. Benghazi diplomatic mission compound.  Al-Muqaryaf, head of Libya's National Congress, reiterated (and elaborated upon) his contentions to Al-Hayat's Raghdah Durgham during an interview published October 1, 2012.

[Durgham] Were you the first to make the mistake of considering what happened to be among the reactions to the anti-Islam film, instead of considering it a terrorist operation?

[Al-Muqaryaf] Since the first seconds after this incident happened on 9/11 I was completely convinced that this act was a premeditated and intentional terrorist act. This video (film) was not disseminated before [could be typographical error for "was disseminated before" as stated in an answer to the question following next], but it is possible that it was taken as justification and pretext. Still, the truth of the matter is that what happened was premeditated and planned according to previous arrangements.

[Durgham] When did you say this to the Americans?

[Al-Muqaryaf] From the first seconds, in my first reaction to what happened.

[Durgham] Then they chose not to believe you?

[Al-Muqaryaf] They certainly have their own way of calculating, assessing, and viewing matters. One can only respect this. But for me, as soon as I learned that this video was disseminated six months ago, it became clear to me that the issue was contrived and that the timing was chosen.

[Durgham] But you told the Americans from the beginning that this was a terrorist act. Why then did they not believe the official word from Libya instead of...

[Al-Muqaryaf] They have their reasons. I do not know these reasons and I have no knowledge about them. But I completely rule out the possibility that this might have been due to a specific intention. I have knowledge and information of course about the presence of these elements in Libya, elements linked to Al-Qa'idah since an early stage, since the days of the revolution itself and the days of the war. I also have information about the presence or infiltration by non-Libyan elements with certain ideological affiliations during a phase months prior to it [revolution].

Al-Muqaryaf's candor has proven a useful adjunct to the concrete e-mail evidence which emerged from the Benghazi hearings (and beyond -- see here, here) exposing the Obama administration's deliberately mendacious narrative.  But notwithstanding Al-Muqaryaf's steadfast refusal to abide the Obama administration's deceitfully redacted false scenario -- constructed to uphold its politically contrived Big Lie about "the demise of al-Qaeda" -- unwarranted hagiographic assessments of the Libyan leader have been put forth by typically informed conservatives.  For example, although nested within a harsh overall critique of the Libyan intervention, this romanticized assessment of  Al-Muqaryaf himself was provided by National Review's Andrew McCarthy:

He [Al-Muqaryaf ] was among Qaddafi's most prominent enemies, and is reputed to be a liberal in the classic sense, supporting free elections and free speech, as well as equality among citizens and between the sexes.

McCarthy's characterization of Al-Muqaryaf as "a liberal in the classic sense" was subsequently repeated by Rush Limbaugh, verbatim -- sans the weak qualifier "reputed."

Stated bluntly, these romantic characterizations do not withstand scrutiny.  Al-Muqaryaf is not a "classical liberal."  Rather, he is a sharia supremacist, both in his words and in his conduct of Libyan state affairs.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2012, Al-Muqaryaf articulated a "vision" of (expected) treacly Islamic apologetics, and boilerplate Islamic Jew-hatred, vis-à-vis Israel.  But Al-Muqaryaf's statements also belied his sharia-based rejection of free speech, melded in seamless if unwitting contradiction to expressed endorsement of "democracy," "openness," and "freedom" itself.

We shall defeat the plots of the backward terrorists that do not represent Libya, who do not represent Islam. Islam is a religion of tolerance, peace and love.

 

We condemn Israel' s measures in attempting to judaize the occupied land and its violations of human rights, international humanitarian law. This calls on the international community to take its responsibilities by taking urgent strong measures to put an end to Israeli aggression and assure a full protection to Palestinians as well as a radical solution to the question of Palestine through a durable settlement assuring the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied lands and return of all Palestinian refugees to their homes.

 

[T]he new Libya shall be based on democracy, openness, transparency, combating corruption, enabling women and youths. It will be a Libya by all and for all. At the same time, I cannot fail to condemn the anti-Islam campaigns and those defaming its Prophet. Such campaigns increase hatred. They aim at provocation and tension in relations amongst civilizations. They go beyond the concept of free expression. This makes it necessary for the General Assembly of the United Nations to adopt a covenant in order to criminalize the insulting of the symbols of all religions.

Shortly after this September 27 U.N. address, he made his sharia supremacist views plain.  During a London interview on October 1, 2012, Al-Muqaryaf, while claiming that Libyans ostensibly desired a "constitutional, democratic, civil" and "secular state," added this profound caveat:

But this does not mean at all that the constitution or any laws and legislation should contain anything that clashes with or is in contradiction to Islamic sharia and its objectives.

He reiterated that viewpoint at the inauguration ceremony of the Maydan al-Shuhada (Martyrs' Square) Mosque in the northwestern Libyan city of Al-Zawiyah three weeks later (October 21, 2012).  After thanking the denizens of Al-Zawiyah for inviting him and members of the (Libyan) General National Congress to take part in "laying down the cornerstones of Allah's house [i.e., the Maydan al-Shuhada Square mosque]," Al-Muqaryaf proclaimed:

On this occasion I want to reassure you that the constitution is laid down in a Muslim country, with all its residents Muslim, and it cannot rely on anything other than Islamic Shari'ah as the fundamental source of legislation in the country.

Al-Muqaryaf further noted that the GNC planned to prepare and issue several draft laws relating to "abolishing the law of interest [in the banking system]" -- a statement which elicited applause from the crowd -- before adding, "This has been an essential entitlement for us for a long time."

Since at least April 2012, foreign Christians within Libya have experienced attacks -- two Egyptian Christians were killed when a bomb exploded in the Coptic Church of Misrata during January, 2013.  Christian religious icons and cemeteries have been desecrated and Christians arrested for the alleged "crime" of proselytizing.  Regarding the sharia-based offense of proselytizing, a Libyan security official  told Reuters:

Proselytizing is forbidden in Libya. We are a 100% Muslim country and this kind of action affects our national security.

Bilal Bettamer, identified as a Benghazi lawyer and human rights activist, affirmed that Libya is an exclusively Muslim country which should not accept Christian proselytization.  Bettamer claimed:

It is disrespectful. If we had Christianity we could have dialogue, but you can't just spread Christianity.

He added:

The maximum penalty is the death penalty. It's a dangerous thing to do.

Yet on the same day it was reported that four Christians were arrested in Benghazi, February 17, 2013, for proselytization, Muhammad Al-Muqaryaf gave a speech, also in Benghazi, marking the second anniversary of the 2011 uprising and pledging once again that sharia would underpin Libya's constitution.  This juxtaposition was symbolic, not fortuitous, as borne out by more recent events.

It was reported less than a month ago (April 14, 2013), for example, that the Libyan Ministry of Social Affairs endorsed a fatwa from the Grand Mufti, Sheikh Sadeq Al-Ghariani, prohibiting Libyan women from marrying foreigners.  As described in English-language Libya Herald,  

Al-Ghariani's call came after he apparently received several complaints from Libyan citizens. These, he said, included allegations that some Christian, Shiites and Druze from different countries have been taking advantage of the chaotic state of the country's administration to marry Libyan women and make them convert to different religions. An official at the Ministry of Social Affairs told the Libya Herald...that the government has temporarily suspended issuing foreign marriage licenses for Libyan women until proper laws and regulations are in place. The final decision on the Mufti's ruling had been passed to the government by the Supreme Court.

Finally, as reported April 25, 2013, Libya's Grand Mufti Al-Ghariani (perhaps emboldened by the Libyan government's recent endorsement of his fatwa banning Libyan women from marrying foreigners), responding to what he characterized as burgeoning number of complaints to the Fatwa (religious ruling) office, is now demanding gender segregation at educational and financial establishments as well as at universities, government offices, companies, and hospitals.

Most Libyans, he maintained, "were calling for the application of Sharia Law."  Moreover, he noted that everyone in a Muslim nation anticipated that:

... special priority to be given to Islamic moral values in a manner that would preserve the nation's Islamic identity and faith and to take this matter seriously before it incurs the wrath of God.

Al-Ghariani directed his open letter demand for an end to such "immoral" gender-mixing to the Al-Muqaryaf , president of the General National Congress, the prime minister, other members of Congress and the government, as well as militia leaders and civil society organizations.  As of this writing, I could find no evidence that Al-Muqaryaf -- the alleged "classical liberal" champion of "equality among citizens and between the sexes" -- has rejected Al-Ghariani's latest demands.

Libyan President Muhammad Al-Muqaryaf should be characterized as the (sadly) commonplace sharia supremacist Muslim leader he in fact appears to be.  As such, Al-Muqaryaf is the apotheosis of the "(Bernard) Lewis doctrine's" failed utopian aspirations.  He most assuredly does not represent the unfulfilled realization of that misbegotten policy construct, cynically undermined by the machinations of the Obama administration.