It will not be good news for Jews and other minorities that the Islamist party in Tunisia has emerged as the largest party in the elections: it will therefore have a big say in drafting the new constitution. In Libya, the leader of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, lost no time is affirming Islam as the main source of legislation in post-Gaddafi Libya.
This is nothing new, you might say, as all 'secular' Arab regimes with the exception of Lebanon already base their constitutions on Shari'a law, and minorities have not fared well under them. But further Islamisation will only make matters worse.
The Washington Post reports:
TUNIS, Tunisia — A moderate Islamist party claimed victory Monday in Tunisia’s landmark elections as preliminary results indicated it had won the biggest share of votes, assuring it will have a strong say in the future constitution of the country whose popular revolution led to the Arab Spring. (..)
Ennahda says it wants Islamic law, to be the source of the country’s legislation, but also insists that the country’s progressive personal status code is compatible with its ideals and that it respects all religions and creeds. The party’s ability to gain votes by moderating its message in a country with a progressive social history could be a model for Islamist parties elsewhere.
Richard Spencer writes in The Telegraph:
Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council and de fact president, had already declared that Libyan laws in future would have Sharia, the Islamic code, as its "basic source".
But that formulation can be interpreted in many ways - it was also the basis of Egypt's largely secular constitution under President Hosni Mubarak, and remains so after his fall.
Mr Abdul-Jalil went further, specifically lifting immediately, by decree, one law from Col. Gaddafi's era that he said was in conflict with Sharia - that banning polygamy.
In a blow to those who hoped to see Libya's economy integrate further into the western world, he announced that in future bank regulations would ban the charging of interest, in line with Sharia. "Interest creates disease and hatred among people," he said.
Gulf states like the United Arab Emirates, and other Muslim countries, have pioneered the development of Sharia-compliant banks which charge fees rather than interest for loans but they normally run alongside western-style banks.
Tunisian constitution may ban ties with Israel