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Libya's Muslim Brotherhood Holds First Public Conference

After being banned by the Qaddafi regime, Libya's Muslim Brotherhood holds first public conference. "We want moderate Islam."
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 11/18/2011, 7:12 AM

Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood held its first public conference on Thursday, after being banned for decades by the Qaddafi regime, Reuters reported.

According to the report, the group used the platform to set a moderate tone, calling for a broad national reconstruction effort.

Libyan Muslim Brotherhood leader Suleiman Abdelkader praised the rebellion and called on Libya’s factions to unite.

“Rebuilding Libya is not a task for one group or one party but for everyone, based on their ability,” he was quoted as having told the meeting of about 700 people at a wedding hall in Benghazi.

Abdelkader also emphasized the group’s moderate nature in his speech, saying, “We don’t want to replace one tyranny with another. All together, we want to build a civil society that uses moderate Islam in its daily life.”

He added, “Now our shared task is to protect Libya, to talk to each other instead of fighting.”

In a conversation with Reuters after the speech, Abdelkader would not comment on whether the Brotherhood wanted one of its members to be part of the interim cabinet, which is due to organize elections in June to a constituent assembly.

“Maybe some (members) will join based on their qualifications and ability, but for this time period we will not join as a party,” he said.

Abdelkader, who will step down from his position as the group’s leader after new leadership is appointed, said the party would discuss which direction it should take as Libya moves toward democracy.

“We are still discussing the form that we should take in the new Libya,” Abdelkader told Reuters, refusing to comment on whether the Brotherhood would form an alliance with other Islamists in next year’s elections.

“We will support whoever makes the wishes of the Libyan people come true,” he said.

Since the revolution in Libya that toppled Qaddafi’s regime, there have been concerns that the country may turn into an extremist Muslim country. Last month, the country’s interim leader, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, caused a stir in the West when he said that legislation in the new Libya would be based on the Islamic Sharia law and that tenets violating it would be nullified.

He later said that Libya “will not be an extremist Islamic country. Our Islam is moderate.”

The Muslim Brotherhood, which spawned the Hamas terrorist organization, is vehemently anti-Israel. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, banned by the Mubarak regime, has reared its head following the revolution there and already has won up to 35 percent support in pre-election polls.

The movement, which has said it would implement Muslim Sharia law in Egypt should it win the election, has previously threatened to kill Israel's ambassador to Cairo if he does not leave the country.