The Symbol of Eman al-Obeidi

On March 26, Eman al-Obeidi burst into the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli and told reporters that fifteen of Gaddafi's militiamen had detained her for two days and raped her. She named one of them as the son of a high-ranking official, and pleaded for her friends, who she said were still held captive. After a scuffle with journalists who tried to intervene, government security forces bundled al-Obeidi out of the hotel against her will and drove her away. At this time, her whereabouts remain … [Read more...]

An Interview with Yusra Tekbali on Libya

MMW Contributor Yusra Tekbali was in Libya during the outbreak of the February 17 Revolution. She was evacuated to Malta, and now speaks to us from The United Arab Emirates, where she is attending Insight Dubai, a conference on Muslim Women’s issues sponsored by Dubai Women’s College. Krista and Azra interview her about her experiences.MMW: Yusra, we’re so glad you are safe. How was it being in Libya during the beginning of the people’s movement?Yusra: In one word: Stressful!  It tes … [Read more...]

“Libyamazons” and the Libyan Uprising

Moammar Gaddafi's outlandish behavior has long been a gift to comedians. Making fun of the Colonel clearly does not require much effort: all the news channel Al Arabiya had to do for their segment Gharaib Al Gaddafi (Gaddafi's Oddities) was put together a montage of clips of the Brother Leader and his fern fly-swatter.One of Gaddafi's eccentricities in particular, his retinue of women bodyguards, has over the years come in for much speculation and endless ridicule. Recently on the Colbert … [Read more...]

Desert Romance: Exoticization and Interfaith Marriage

"I got married secretly in a mosque," says Elisabeth Elhazza. Her words are the title of an article in Tara, a Swedish women's magazine, which gives an account of Elisabeth’s marriage to "seven years younger Khairi Elhazza from Libya," how he proposed, and how "Elisabeth said yes without hesitation and stepped into what was, for her, an unfamiliar and strange culture." The image of Elisabeth and Khairi in Tara magazine. "‘Now I am one hundred percent Libyan,’ she says."The delicate phrasing of … [Read more...]

The media’s surface-level fixation on Libya’s female bodyguards

The first thing anyone, male or female, Arab or not ever says to me when they find out I’m Libyan is, “Wow, I’ve never met a Libyan before.” The follow-up question almost always involves a snide comment about Libya’s female bodyguards.These lovely ladies, trained in combat, accompany Colonel Qaddafi, Libya's head of state, everywhere he goes and are credited to helping him endure 39 years of power, making him the longest serving Arab leader. These women, many of them married with children, we … [Read more...]