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Sharia law to be main source of legislation in Libya

Sharia law is set to guide Libyan legislation, but the transitional government insists it will be moderate.

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Several videos have emerged showing Gadhafi was alive when he was captured and taunted and beaten by revolutionary fighters in Sirte. The Boston-based international news site GlobalPost posted a video showing Gadhafi's captors ramming a stick into his buttocks through his pants.

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Guma al-Gamaty, a London-based spokesman for the National Transitional Council, said Abdul-Jalil had an obligation at the dawn of a new era to assure Libyans that Islam will be respected.

"This doesn't mean that Libya will become a theocracy. There is no chance of that whatsoever. Libya will be a civic state, a democratic state and, in principle, its laws will not contradict democracy," he said.

It is the kind of assurance Western powers that supported the anti-Gadhafi fighters with airstrikes and diplomatic backing may have been looking for.

In Washington, Nuland stressed the importance of creating "a democracy that meets international human rights standards, that provides a place for all Libyans and that serves to unify the country."

She said the U.S. was encouraged that Abdul-Jalil clarified his earlier statements on the topic, but hedged on an overall U.S. assessment of systems based on Sharia.

"We've seen various Islamic- based democracies wrestle with the issue of establishing rule of law within an appropriate cultural context," Nuland said. "But the No. 1 thing is that universal human rights, rights for women, rights for minorities, right to due process, right to transparency be fully respected."

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero played down the comments.

"We have confidence that the Libyan people, who have courageously freed themselves from 42 years of dictatorship, will build a lawful state, in conformity with the principles and universal values shared by the international community," Valero said in an online briefing Monday.

Many Libyans welcomed Abdul-Jalil's comments as a chance to overturn Gadhafi's rulings as he cracked down on Islamists in his later years. Others were critical, saying it was the wrong time to raise the issue.

Hana el-Gallal, a human rights activist, said she was not against the implementation of Sharia law but only if done correctly.

"For me, the speech was not up to the historical moment we are going through. We know the Quran and we know the basics of our religion. We are not against polygamy but it is better to regulate it," she said.

"Maybe he is trying to make sure that we are not going to be a Westernized country. I don't know what kind of threat he faces," she added.

Libya is a deeply conservative Muslim nation, with most women wearing headscarves or the all-encompassing niqab. Islamists were heavily repressed under Gadhafi and are eager to have their say, raising the prospect of a battle for influence between hard-line and moderate Muslims. Already several attacks have occurred on shrines in and around Tripoli belonging to Muslim sects whose practices are seen as sacrilegious.

Abdul-Jalil singled out banks charging interest as something that will be abolished to conform with Sharia laws that equate bank interest with usury. He also said that a Gadhafi-era law that sets conditions on Libyan men wishing to take a second wife, including the written approval of the first wife, will have to be nullified since the Quran allows men to take up to four wives.

"If we follow Islamic principles, then Islam does ban interest. This is an Islamic rule that can't be negotiated. Some banks are following the Islamic way, which is sharing losses or profits. ... Quran is the higher constitution for all Muslims," Abdul-Jalil said on Monday.

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