Reportage surrounding Libya suggests that everything will be sweetness and light once sadistic madman Col. Muammar Qaddafi is ousted permanently. “Who, today, does not thrill to the spectacle of freedom in Tripoli?” asks Fouad Ajami in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. “A brave people, civilians in the main, exiles who returned to their devastated country, students with no military skills – all headed to the front in their pickup trucks to reclaim their homeland from a tyrant who had turned it into a laboratory for his mix of megalomania and derangement. These are the people who have made this rebellion.”
Really? Is that who they are? Ajami himself seems to doubt it. “There is no way that a blanket assertion can be made that this massive Libyan upheaval is free of Islamists,” he admits. His only evidence to the contrary is “the more compelling evidence of the rebellion itself – its composition, the earnestness of the professionals and civil libertarians active in it, their promise that the terrible autocrat will not be replaced by a zealous, unforgiving theocracy.”
Sparse evidence indeed, and a promise unlikely to be kept, particularly when the first purported draft constitution for the reconstituted Libya centers around the primacy of Islamic law. The document has all of the flowery buzzwords the foreign press loves to focus upon: “justice, equality … progress and prosperity.” But the first General Provision of the draft constitution reads, “Islam is the Religion of the State and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Shariah).” Article 8 of the draft Constitution is purely socialist in nature: “The State shall further guarantee the fair distribution of national wealth among citizens, and among the different cities and districts thereof.” Article 10 guarantees the “right of asylum” – a right that has been used by Libya in the past to protect murderers like the Lockerbie bomber.
Forgive me if I do not “thrill” to the spectacle of such “freedom.”
We were supposed to thrill to the spectacle of Egyptian freedom, too. Instead, Egypt has been largely in thrall to the Muslim Brotherhood since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, and is now involved in border skirmishes with Israel. Egyptians in Cairo have scaled the Israeli embassy and ripped down the Israeli flag. One Egyptian presidential candidate sent a “salute of pride” to the “public hero who burned the Zionist flag that spoiled the Egyptian air for 30 years.” Egypt has since been funneling weapons and supplies into the Gaza Strip. Is this the freedom we were supposed to cheer?
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