Libya bans ‘glorification’ of Qaddafi, drops bar on religious parties

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Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) on Wednesday criminalized the glorification of slain leader Muammar Qaddafi and his regime, while also deciding to drop a controversial ban against religious parties ahead of the constituent assembly election.

“Praising or glorifying Muammar Qaddafi, his regime, his ideas or his sons... is punishable by a prison sentence,” said the text of the law read out to reporters by a judicial official following a high-level meeting.

“If those news, rumors or propaganda cause any damage to the state the penalty will be life in prison,” the official said reading from the text of the new law.

The law also criminalizes spreading rumors or information that could hamper military activities, spread terror, or weaken the morale of citizens.

Meanwhile, the NTC dropped a ban against parties organized along religious, regional, tribal or ethnic lines.

Members of the NTC judicial committee on Wednesday read out an amended version of its law governing the formation of political parties, making no mention of the ban.

“The ban had been announced (on April 24) to test public reactions,” an NTC member said in reference to the earlier version which had come under fire from Islamists and federalists.

Political organizations of any kind were banned for decades under the iron-fisted rule of Muammar Qaddafi, who was toppled and killed in last year’s popular uprising.

The NTC scrapped legislation outlawing political associations in January.

Dozens of parties have launched since then with the intention of contesting the constituent assembly election that the NTC has pledged to organize by June 19.

The NTC has already stated that the country will be run in accordance with Sharia, or Islamic law, but its exact place in the legal system is yet to be determined as a new constitution will be put together after elections.

Islamist parties have shown strong performances in post-uprising elections in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco.