Libya Table of Contents
It was not surprising that opposition arose to the rapid radical changes ushered in by the Qadhafi regime. The wealthy, the privileged, and the traditional tribal and religious elites resented their postrevolutionary loss of power. The ranks of the opposition also grew to include sections of the armed forces, university students, intellectuals and technocrats, and even some of the new political and tribal leaders who clashed with the core elite for one reason or another.
For its part, the revolutionary regime made it clear from the outset that it would brook no opposition. Opposition from political parties or other interest groups was viewed as harmful to national unity. Speaking in October 1969, Qadhafi stated that Libya needed "national unity free of party activities and division" and that "he who engages in party activities commits treason." The December 1969 Decision on the Protection of the Revolution, the Penal Code, and Law No. 71 of 1972 rendered political party activities a crime and formed a strict legal injunction against unauthorized political activity, particularly if such activity should physically threaten the state. Insulting the Constitution or popular authorities and joining a nonpolitical international society without permission were both punishable by imprisonment. Attempting to change the government or the Constitution through force, propagandizing theories or principles aimed at such action, and forming an illegal group were crimes punishable by death. One of the basic points of the cultural revolution, declared in April 1973, called for the repression of communism and conservatism. Also to be repressed were capitalism, atheism, and the secretive Muslim Brotherhood (see Glossary).
Despite legal strictures and physical attempts to nullify opposition, there has been resistance to the revolutionary regime. The discovery of a plot involving two cabinet ministers (lieutenant colonels who were not RCC members) was announced in December 1969. A second plot, allegedly based in Fezzan and involving a distant cousin of former King Idris, was discovered in July 1970. Participation of foreign mercenaries was alleged in both cases (see Qadhafi and the Revolutionary Command Council , ch. 1). Other resistance has been encountered from traditional tribal leaders who have not welcomed their own displacement by modernizing technocrats, government administrators, people's committees, and popular congresses. Numerous technocrats and other elements of the urban population opposed Qadhafi's emphasis on religion. Traditional Islamic religious leaders also opposed Qadhafi's approach to Islam because its uniquely personal and fundamentalist nature superseded their intermediary position and interpretive function. As in many other developing countries, aspects of the modernization process--such as education and mass communications-- also result in impatience and dissatisfaction with the ruling regime. Increased education and exposure to the mass media were intended to inculcate Libyan citizens with patriotism and loyalty to the regime; however, through education and the media, Libyans also were informed of standards of living and political freedoms enjoyed elsewhere in the world. Exposure to the media created rising expectations that probably increased demands on the government rather than increasing support for it through propaganda.
Data as of 1987