Islam and the Constitution

Islamic identity has played an important role in the formation of the Libyan State, shaping leaders’ decisions and popular appeals. After achieving independence from Italy in 1951, a Sanusi Sufi leader, King Idris, became Libya’s first and only monarch. In 1969, Muammar al-Gadhafi overthrew the monarchy in a coup that gave him unilateral control of Libyan politics for the next 42 years. During his rule, Gadhafi appealed to conservative Islamic sentiment while also repressing Islamic clerics and Islamist leaders who threatened his rule. Following Gadhafi’s overthrow in 2011, Libya is embarking on a shaky path towards stability under a new interim government, with elections held in June 2012. The role of Islam in the new state remains to be seen, though most leaders emphasize the importance of some sort of adherence to Islamic principles.

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