Two months before Libya is set to have its first general elections since Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown last year, the country's ruling National Transitional Council issued a surprise new law today that's meant to keep religion out of politics. The law bans political parties that are based on religious principles, the Associated Press reported.
“Parties shouldn’t be based on ethnic or religious ideologies,” spokesman Mohammed al-Hareizi told the AP. “We don’t want the government to be divided by these ideological differences.”
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In March, Libya's Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists formed a new political party, called the Freedom and Development party, but it is unclear how this new law will affect the party, BBC News reported. The party is Libya's most organized political group, and analysts had expected it to be an influential new player in Libya's politics.
After Arab Spring, Islamists have performed strongly in post-uprising elections in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco. Libya's own National Transitional Council has previously indicated that the country will be run in accordance with sharia, the religious law of Islam, Reuters reported.
The Muslim Brotherhood spoke out against the new law. "This kind of clause is only useful in countries where there exists many religions, not in Libya where most people are religious Muslims," a spokesman for the Freedom and Development party told Reuters.
But others welcomed the new ban, the Daily Telegraph reported.