By Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 2 October:
Mohammed Magarief, President of the General National Congress, moved fast to diffuse the growing row over his . . .[restrict]statement in a press interview published yesterday, Monday, in which he said that Libya would be a “secular” state.
He issued a short apology this evening, Tuesday, stating that it would be up to the Libyan people to decide the new constitution. “I feel an obligation to clarify my recent statements which were mistakenly misinterpreted and taken out of context”, he said. “I would like to apologize to Libyans if I misspoke. I am open to any advice or comment by any Libyan.”
However, he also made it clear that the elected legislature in Libya should be the supreme law-making body in the country and that there should be no Sharia courts. “It is obvious that our reality has no room for secularism or theocracy..it has no room for men of religion with absolute powers.”
He also said that the sanctity of religious leaders “must be respected”.
Earlier in the day, a number of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party members walked out of Congress in protest at his statement, published in the London-based Al Hayat newspaper. Later there was a furious debate in Congress on the subject.
Evidently now wary of the press, Magarief issued his statement to a small handful of invited TV cameras, but journalists were prevented from entering the “press conference” to report on the matter.