The last few weeks in Libya have been tragic, depressing, and hopeful by turn. For months the militia situation in the country had been brewing, with increasing calls for disarmament and unification under a national army on the one hand and, on the other, calls for patience by those making the argument that the armed groups are needed to keep order and security. This simmering tension exploded on the 11th of September with the devastating attack on the US embassy, which took the life of the ambassador Chris Stevens, as well as other Americans and Libyans. As a Libyan myself, I was left enraged and speechless by the attack, and finally thankful that there was someone to articulate those feelings publicly on behalf of Libyans, as prime minister Mustafa Abushagur did in his article on the attack.
Initially there was some speculation about how far the attack was motivated by the protests against that obscure film, which is no longer so obscure, and how much it was a pre-planned terrorist attack. In the wake of the attacks, however, many people ascribed the blame to certain militias or factions of them, and so on Friday, there were two sets of protests in Benghazi–one called Save the Prophet and the other Save Benghazi, the latter drawing many more people in a march against the militias, including many women.
By now pretty much everyone knows M.I.A. as the bad girl who flipped off the Super Bowl halftime camera. But her fans are more preoccupied with her new music video, “Bad Girls”, in which BMWs and Mercedes Benzes race in a desert we presume to be in the Middle East, tires burn in nameless oil states, Bedouin-styled men ride stallions à la Casablanca, brown rebel-types tote guns, and backup dancers appear in not-quite-accurate hipsterized niqab and hijab. Continue reading →
With more than 140 tribes and clans, Libya is considered one of the most tribally fragmented nations in the Arab world. Despite modernization, tribalism remains a prominent force in a country now awash with weaponry.
In the aftermath of Gaddafi’s reign, nearly forty different independent militias that reportedly emerged during the rebellion remain at large.
Raising questions as to whether the National Transitional Council (NTC) has the ability to reign in all the various groups, many of which have competing interests like settling scores from the past.
For Libyans from the far south this daunting picture has already become a reality. Continue reading →
Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi’s use of African mercenaries to quell the uprising against his autocratic regime has revived a deep-rooted racism between Arabs and black Africans.
Though most will deny its existence, in Libya discrimination is common not only against migrant black Africans, but also against darker-skinned Libyans, especially from the south of the country. Continue reading →
Google executive Wael Ghonim became one of the faces of the Egyptian revolution through the Facebook page “We are all Khalid Said,” which was a vital spark to the revolution. But another important spark was a video posted by 26-year-old Asmaa Mahfouz from the April 6 Youth Movement, where she declared that she was going out to Tahrir Square and urged people to join her in saving Egypt.
The spirit of freedom Mahfouz spoke about was symbolized in Tahrir Square, where Egyptian women found an equality and camaraderie that they are hoping will be carried forward in shaping a new Egypt—a hope Mona Seif, Gigi Ibrahim, and Salma El Tarzi express in this article.
In the revolutions currently sweeping the region, women’s voices have been loud and clear, from Amal Mathluthi singing for the Tunisian revolution, to the “bravest girl in Egypt” leading chants against Mubarak, to the journalist and activist Tawakul Karaman’s heading protests in Yemen. Outside the region, R&B artist Ayah added her voice to the single “#Jan25″ in solidarity with the Egyptian people, and journalist Mona El Tahawy appeared on countless media outlets, bringing the world’s attention to the events unfolding in her country, and the ongoing events in Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Iran.