“What worries us is the attempt of some secular elements to isolate and exclude others. Libya’s Islamists have announced their commitment to democracy; despite this, some reject their participation and call for them to be marginalized,” he wrote.
“It is as though they want to push Islamists towards a nondemocratic option by alienating and marginalizing them. We will not allow this: All Libyans are partners in this revolution and all should be part of building the future of this country,” he added.
The Islamists do not have a big support base in Libya’s predominantly secular society.
Mr. Belhaj’s own popularity has plummeted in Tripoli because of his actions. He moves around the capital with large entourages that residents say are reminiscent of the days of the Gadhafi regime.
“He is not synonymous with the kind of rule that people want to see in Libya,” said Dr. Mhani.
A European diplomat, who spoke on background, said European officials have in private meetings with the rebel leadership sent “very strong messages that there should be no tolerance for extremist groups that might want to use Libya as a place where they could develop a presence.”
“We would like to see an inclusive transition toward democracy in Libya. Most certainly there will be a component of Islamist parties, because they are the reality of Libya’s political scene,” he added.
“We are trying to show maximum restraint and unity, but these politicians are testing our patience,” said Mr. Benrasali.