NATO presence requested in Libya through end of 2011

By October 27, 2011

Libya (MNN) — Although NATO seems poised to bring
its Libya mission to an end, the transitional government has asked it to remain
through the end of 2011 to help ensure security.

The birth of a nation is a critical time to
engage. Todd
Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs explains, "The government is starting to take shape as
it's going to exist. They can stop
focusing on the revolution, stop focusing on taking control of the country, and
now they can focus on 'How are we going to govern?' and 'What are the laws going to
be?'"

Already, the head of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdul Jalil, has made official-sounding speeches embracing Sharia law. That move is likely to keep the attention of the international community. "This is one
of the key questions: 'If you're not a Muslim,
what does this mean for you?' The preliminary read, I think–by looking at
Sharia and how it's enforced in other countries–is: 'This is not a step in the
right direction.'"

In many Muslim
countries, Sharia law forms the basis for the constitution, but it is interpreted
moderately. However, Nettleton explains, "Now
you're looking at an interim government which is saying, 'We're going to go away
from this moderate form of Islam that has been practiced. His [Jalil's] speech very clearly
said, 'Any law that violates Sharia is null and void.'"

In his speech, Jalil said he would like to see new Islamic
rules implemented to govern banking and end some of the Gadhafi-era restrictions
on polygamy. At this, eyebrows went up
in the international community. Nettleton says, "They [the NTC] have promised elections that will
lay out who's going to be in charge, and what the government will look like. Some of the other people in Libya are saying, 'This
is not an announcement that should be made during this transition time. We need to get a Parliament in place to discuss and
hash this out."'

There are reports that ragtag groups of fighters loyal
to Muammar Gaddafi may still try to foment trouble as they regroup. NATO's presence may help keep the strictest
enforcement at bay for a little while, but that brings up another question: what might happen when no one is watching Libya? "If this does become a
full-fledged Sharia nation," says Nettleton, "there will be a lot of impetus for Christians to
flee the country, to seek asylum somewhere else. We need to pray for them to
have wisdom and courage."

One thing is clear: Islam is going to play a much stronger
role across the region, as evidenced by what's happening in Egypt, Tunisia,
Syria, and across Libya. For Christian
workers, the stakes are much higher as they continue to work. Nettleton admits that their teams will probably have
to make some big adjustments. "It changes things regarding how careful you need
to be in Christian activity, particularly in Christian witnessing, but it
doesn't change the call of Christ to 'go into all the world.' It doesn't change
the fact that we, as Christians, have the hope of eternity with Christ, and we
can offer that hope to people around us."

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