The National Transitional Council in Libya has always contained Islamist elements. So it's not exactly a shock to hear interim leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil declare that the new Libya will be an Islamic state with a constitution based on Sharia law.
It was, however, not an aspect of Libya's rebellion that its military allies in the secular democratic West were eager to talk about. When Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, visited with NTC in August and called it the "legitimate representative of the people of Libya," that was not followed by any statements clarifying that Canada would prefer that 13-year-old victims of gang rape not be buried up to their necks and stoned to death in stadiums. (That's one way Sharia law has been interpreted and applied, in Somalia in 2008).
In those heady summer days, most discussions about the Libya of the future were brushed aside as secondary concerns. First let's get rid of Moammar Gadhafi - the argument went - and then we'll worry about what replaces him. After all, nothing could be worse than Gadhafi, could it?
Of course, it's quite likely that the NTC and what follows it will indeed be a vast improvement on Gadhafi. And the mere fact that the interim leader wants the constitution to respect Sharia doesn't mean the new Libya will be another Somalia, another Nigeria, or another Saudi Arabia. Much depends on the interpretation of Sharia. It is possible for a democratic state to acknowledge its Islamic heritage while respecting human rights...Maybe so, but it's impossible for a state to be democratic in the Western sense and also hew to sharia, a type of law that is both inimical to and the antithesis of democracy.