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The Libyan Revolution and its Aftermath$
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Peter Cole and Brian McQuinn

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190210960

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190210960.001.0001

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Finding Their Place

Finding Their Place

Libya’s Islamists During and After the Revolution

(p.177) 8 Finding Their Place
The Libyan Revolution and its Aftermath

Mary Fitzgerald

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the evolution of Islamist groups in Libya, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, the spectrum of Salafist groups, al-Qaida and jihadist networks, and youth groups in Benghazi and Derna ranging from the moderate to extreme iterations such as Ansar al-Sharia. It argues that these groups were ideologically different but united by formative experiences in Abu Slim prison, and the networks therein enabled swift mobilization during the revolution. It highlights the groups’ early scepticism of the National Transitional Council and effort to influence its composition, strategy for elections, and positioning on sharia law. It also highlights differences within militant Islamist or Salafi–jihadist currents over the legitimacy of the NTC, the desirability of working with NATO, and the future Libyan state. It argues that though mostly united initially, Islamist groups fell apart after Qadhafi’s death, leading to a fragmented and confused approach to the July 2012 elections in which the movements could not present a coherent alternative to the National Forces Alliance, nor counter negative public opinion of Islamists. This encouraged the growth of extreme rejectionist groups in Dirna and Benghazi, while also causing democratically-engaged Islamists to fare poorly in the elections.

Keywords:   Arab Spring, Libya, Muslim Brotherhood, Islamism, jihad, Salafism, Qatar, Benghazi, Al-Qaida

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