(Politico) — The Obama administration on Monday treaded carefully around the announcement that Sharia law will be enforced in post-Muammar Qadhafi Libya, refraining from expressing disapproval of Islamic law as the foundation of the country’s new legal system.
“We’ve seen various Islamic-based democracies wrestle with the issue of establishing rule of law within an appropriate cultural context,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters on Monday when quizzed about Libya’s National Transitional Council leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil’s declaration on Sunday that Sharia law will shape the country’s legal system.
Nuland added that the “number one” priority for the U.S. was that universal human rights, as well as rights for women, minorities, due process and transparency, be fully respected in Libya.
Pressed on whether this meant the administration had no objections to Libya’s new government using the Sharia law as a basis for the country’s legal system, Nuland responded: “The term has broad application and is understood differently.”
The State Department’s cautious response follows Abdul-Jalil’s announcement on Sunday, when the country formally celebrated its liberation from former ruler Qadhafi following his death last week, that Sharia would be the basis for the country’s legal system.
“Any law that violates sharia is null and void legally,” the NTC’s leader said in Benghazi on Sunday, according to the AFP. “The law of divorce and marriage . . . this law is contrary to Sharia and it is stopped.”