The interim constitution protects religious freedom, although some laws and policies restrict religious freedom. Under the previous government there were no explicit legal protections for religious freedom, and the government generally enforced laws and policies that restricted religious freedom.
The interim governing authority, the Transitional National Council (TNC), issued a temporary constitutional declaration in August that protects freedom of religion. Article 1 of this document states Islam is the state religion and Islamic law is the principal source of legislation, but that non-Muslims are accorded the freedom to practice their beliefs. Article 6 states “there shall be no discrimination among Libyans on the basis of religion or sect” with regard to legal, political, and civil rights.
There is no law providing for an individual’s right to choose or change his or her religion or to study, discuss, or promulgate one’s religious beliefs. There is also no law prohibiting conversion from Islam to another religion; however, the government prohibited proselytizing to Muslims. Citizens have no apparent recourse if they believe their rights to religious freedom were violated. In practice citizens did not have access to courts to seek damages for, or cessation of, religious freedom violations because the judiciary was not fully functioning as a result of the armed uprising.
Under the Qadhafi regime, the World Islamic Call Society (WICS) was the official conduit for the state-approved form of Islam. With an emphasis on activities outside the country, it operated a state-run university for Muslim clerics from outside the Arab world. The government encouraged students who graduated to return home and promote its interpretation of Islamic thought in their own countries. Beyond its role in education, WICS served as the religious arm of the government’s foreign policy and maintained relations on behalf of the government with the country’s minority religious communities. The status of WICS after the fall of the Qadhafi regime was not clear; during the year, WICS suspended operations and its offices were seized for use by the Ministry of Defense. The new authorities were considering integrating WICS into the Awqaf, but did not make a decision by year’s end.
Religious instruction in Islam is required in public schools and in private schools that admit citizens, but there is no in-depth instruction on other religious groups. The government does not issue information on the religious affiliation of children in public schools, and there were no reports of children transferring to private schools for alternative religious instruction.
The country’s interpretation of Islamic law holds that a non-Muslim woman who marries a Muslim man is not required to convert to Islam, although many do so; however, a non-Muslim man must convert to Islam to marry a Muslim woman.
Citizens must be at least 40 years old to perform the Hajj.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, and the Islamic New Year.