Libya’s leadership vacuum leaves room for extremism

By September 15, 2011

Libya (MNN) — Libya finally seems to have broken free of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. At this point, although one of his sons has been located in Niger, no one seems certain where Gaddafi is. All that's clear is that Libya seems to be planning to start over.

But Christians across the 97% Sunni Muslim nation are asking: "Exactly what direction will Libya head?"

"They have a strong concern about the future that the government will take a turn for the worse," notes Tom Doyle, Middle East-Central Asia Director for E3Partners. "Even as difficult a leader as [Gaddafi] is–kind of like Mubarak was in Egypt, they fear that it may get worse and much more radical."

The head of the National Transitional Council in Libya, Mustafa Abdul Jalil who was Gaddafi's justice minister before joining the rebels when the uprising began, announced that Libya would from now on be led by "moderate Islam." BBC News reports Jalil as saying Libya would be a state "where sharia [Islamic law] is the main source for legislation."

For anyone who knows about Islamic law, however, the terms "sharia" and "moderate" are not often seen together. "Sharia law is definitely not moderate Islam if it's enforced like it is in many Muslim countries," confirms Doyle.

At the same time, neighboring Egypt seems to be getting closer and closer to accepting the Muslim Brotherhood as their leadership, with now 50% of the country in favor of the group. Many fear that if that happens in Egypt, it could easily happen in Libya as well.

"If it does [happen], then you look at Northern Africa, and about half of it is taken over by radical Islamic groups," adds Doyle.

"In Libya, nobody was a big fan of Gaddafi; you can just see the general disgust of the country turning against him. But yet, this creates a vacuum of leadership in the country. Things are uncertain, and so of course believers are always concerned about what's going to fill that vacuum. There are hard-line fundamentalist groups that would love to seize this power and take control," says Doyle.

Christians are responding to the uncertainty in an unusual manner. Rather than running in fear, they are continuing on their mission to boldly spread the Gospel.

"Regardless of the government, it really doesn't stop them," says Doyle.

Libyan Christians know that what their nation really needs is Christ. "North Africa is one of those regions that has been virtually uncracked as far as in the Muslim world," adds Doyle. "We're seeing some great things happen in the Middle East, and even some things in the Gulf…. But North Africa has not experienced an open harvest window like this."

Christians are boldly trying to change that, despite what may or may not happen in their nation in the days and weeks to come. Believers are eager to plant churches and disciple new believers.

Libyan Christians are not asking for open doors, but for strength and boldness as they share the Gospel. Pray that God would use this time of transition to empower the church and alter the spiritual climate of Libya.

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