The Libyan Muslim Brotherhood needed to manoeuvre underground for several decades, just as most opposition groups in Libya had to—because of the repression from the Qaddafi regime. In 2012, however, the political wing of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood (LMB), the Justice and Construction Party (JCP, sometimes also called the Justice and Development Party) participated in popular elections just shortly after its inception. Seven years later, one can unanimously say that the movement was not able to take power in the country. This paper will analyse the LMB in post-revolutionary Libya by concentrating on the attempts of establishing legitimacy in the political sphere—while continuously being informed by historical influences. Methodologically, the paper examines primary sources, key academic texts but also factors in interview data from semi-structured interviews. Overall, the paper addresses the puzzle of why Libya as a predominantly Sunni, conservative country did not translate into a conservative Sunni movement like the LMB faring well; with that, derailing the impression that the whole region was “going Islamist” after the so-called Arab Spring. The LMB today is still influenced by the historical treatment it received under Qaddafi, which lead it to base itself mostly in exile, hence it struggled to entrench itself in the country. The LMB was pointed towards their opponents’ fearmongering of an alleged Islamist takeover, mostly without addressing self-inflicted wounds, such as their inability to unite or to convince major parts of the population of their political programme.
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