The West: the swords of Islam

Revolution Won, Top Libyan Official Vows a New and More Pious State:

The leader of Libya’s transitional government declared to thousands of revelers in a crowded square here on Sunday that Libya’s revolution had ended, setting the country on the path to elections, and he vowed that the new government would be based on Islamic tenets.

The sea of flag-waving citizens reacted with shouts of “God is great;” minutes earlier, they had sung the bouncy Italianate national anthem used before Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi came to power. The song has been revived to help celebrate the downfall of the dictator, who was killed on Thursday.

“We are an Islamic country,” Mr. Abdel-Jalil, the chairman of the Transitional National Council, said as the sun descended. “We take the Islamic religion as the core of our new government. The constitution will be based on our Islamic religion.” He also promised that Islamic banks would be established in the new Libya.

The emphasis on Islam in the short speech — he began by thanking God and declaring God “the greatest — appeared to be an answer of sorts to the speculation about how much of a role religion might play here.

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5 Responses to The West: the swords of Islam

  1. Meng Bomin says:

    Not surprising. Abdul Jalil has a very pronounced raisin on his head.

  2. Susan says:

    This news does not come as an overwhelming surprise.

  3. j mct says:

    The weird thing that needs explaining I would say is why westerners expect the ‘Libyans’ to somehow start behaving like a nation of ‘Libyans’ when there really is no such thing as a ‘Libyan’, in the same way there is an American or a Frenchman.

    One thing that one used to hear right after 9/11 was the ‘what is wrong with Islam’ question. Sometimes the answer would be that Islam needs a Reformation or a Pope, which as far as ‘fixing’ Islam, are both kind of wrong, but both lead one to reform the question to the much more precise ‘What is different between Christianity and Islam in relation to politics and why and one is getting a bit warmer.

    In the West, the political ‘unit’ that dominates is the nation state. The state is the state, and the nation is a high falutin word for one’s tribe. One’s tribe is what one thinks of one’s self, it is the source of one’s identity, it is the glue of society, what men have in common that makes a society a society rather than bunch of atomized individuals, the thing that is bigger than the self. If you ask a man where his primary allegiance lies and he says he’s a Frenchman, a German or a Russian, he’s saying what his tribe is in the sense meant above.

    Westerners think this is very natural, that tribes and states go together like this, and Westerners are very wrong about this. There are no Libyans in Libya like there are Russians in Russia. If the Libyan World Cup team were to win the World Cup, nobody would get a lump in there throat about how great the Libyans are like what would happen if the Germans or the English won.

    A man who lives Libya’s tribe is Islam. Christianity used to be like that. In the year 1300, there were no Germans or Frenchman, Englishman, or Italians, in the sense that of being a tribe, or a ‘nation’. There was a French state, headed by the King of France, but there was no French nation. A man’s tribe in 1300 was Christendom. The number of present day Christians whose tribe is Christianity or better yet, Roman Catholicism or Lutheranism, is almost zero, so we have trouble wrapping our minds around Islam being a Muslim’s tribe rather then being a Syrian or a Jordanian or the like.

  4. H says:

    J MCT, have you got first hand experience of Libya? Because in other Arab countries when their national football team wins it’s a huge deal. Many of these peoples might talk the language of the ‘umma’ but Middle Eastern states are very durable, something pan-Arabists and pan-Islamists have found to their disappointment. For most practical purposes these states have the overriding allegiance of their peoples; it’s their governments that don’t.

    This article is pure New York Times Middle East coverage – enthusiastic for every opposition figure who talks the language of ‘human rights’ and ‘democracy’ no matter how hollow. The NYT will only start to scrutinise the democracy talk when these people actually get power, but by then it’s too late – see the NYT’s promotion of Iranian agent Ahmed Chalabi in Iraq as the best example.

  5. David Hume says:

    great comment!

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