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Avoiding the Islamist Stigma


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The American Spectator:

Explaining Libya's surprising interim cabinet appointments.
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

Recently it has been reported that Libya's interim Prime Minister -- Abdurrahim el-Keib -- has named a line-up of secularists as part of his interim cabinet at the expense of Islamists, running counter to the expectations of many analysts. Most notably, Osama al-Juwali, the chief of the military council in the small town of Zintan in western Libya, was appointed defense minister instead of Abdelhakim Belhaj, the Islamist head of the Tripoli Military Council.

What are the reasons behind these surprising appointments? Do they show Libya is on the path to true liberal democracy?


It is also noteworthy how the interim cabinet appointments have completely excluded the Islamists' most vociferous opponents and advocates of liberal secularism in Libya: the Berber minority, prompting justifiable outrage on their part. Indeed, the contrast between the generally liberal mores of the Berber town of Zwara and the dominance of Islamism on the ground in the neighboring "Arab" (in reality just Berbers who have been Arabized over the centuries) city of Sabratha could not be more apparent.

In short, therefore, the cabinet appointments of "technocrats" (as is being widely reported) are not automatically a cause for optimistic hope of liberal democracy in Libya. Islamism in Libya does not appear to be going away anytime soon, and could well entrench itself even more deeply in the country in the coming months.
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