The dust has not yet settled over the Libyan capital of Tripoli since rebels took control over the weekend. But already, a draft constitutional charter for the transitional state has appeared online (embedded below). It is just a draft, mind you, and gauging its authenticity at this point is difficult. There is also no way to know whether this draft or something similar will emerge as the final governing document for a new Libyan regime.
As both the Morning Bell and Washington in a Flash noted today, Heritage Fellow Jim Phillips recently pointed out that Islamist forces “appear to make up a small but not insignificant part of the opposition coalition,” and must be prevented “from hijacking Libya’s future.” Parts of the draft Constitution allay those fears, while others exacerbate them.
Much of the document describes political institutions that will sound familiar to citizens of Western liberal democracies, including rule of law, freedom of speech and religious practice, and a multi-party electoral system.
But despite the Lockean tenor of much of the constitution, the inescapable clause lies right in Part 1, Article 1: “Islam is the Religion of the State, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia).” Under this constitution, in other words, Islam is law. That makes other phrases such as “there shall be no crime or penalty except by virtue of the law” and “Judges shall be independent, subject to no other authority but law and conscience” a bit more ominous.