France says 'watchful' on new Libya's respect for rights
France will keep a watchful eye over Libya's respect for human rights after the country's new leaders promised a system of Islamic sharia law, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Monday.
"We will be watchful that the values that we defended alongside the Libyan people are respected: democratic alternation of power, respect for human life, equality of rights between men and women," Juppe said.
National Transitional Council leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said on Sunday that sharia law would prevail in Libya after rebels liberated it from 42 years of Moamer Kadhafi's rule.
He notably cited laws under Kadhafi that banned polygamy and allowed divorce to happen in a certain way as being un-Islamic and therefore no longer enforceable.
However, Abdel Jalil on Monday sought to dispel fears that Libya was about to adopt hardline Islamic rule.
"I would like to assure the international community that we as Libyans are Muslims but moderate Muslims," he said.
Juppe noted that: "Abdel Jalil said that moderate Islam is his reference."
Speaking in the southwestern city of Bordeaux, where he is mayor, Juppe said that sharia is applied "in a great number of Arab countries including some that are countries which respect the fundamentals of democracy."
"It's up to the Libyan people to choose their destiny in free elections," Juppe said, adding that "there is room all around the Mediterranean for an Islam that is reconcilable with our democratic values."
"It is to this that the intercultural and interreligious dialogue that we must develop with Islam must contribute rather than barricading ourselves behind our Western beliefs," he said.
France spearheaded the international community's efforts to back those revolting against Kadhafi's rule, including calling for UN-mandated air strikes on his forces and recognising the NTC.
© 2011 AFP