“Woman vs Islamist” – Duelling Protests, Flag Switching and Zero Sum Games

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 … [Read more...]

The “Symbolic Step” of Women’s Political Participation in A New Libya

Libya's new interim government, which was announced on November 22, has been tasked with preparing for elections scheduled for next June, when voters will select an assembly to write the new constitution. As expected, given the challenges of rebuilding the country after four decades of dictatorship and nine months of war, the choice of ministers has come under scrutiny. International media coverage took an angle that suggested some fears had been allayed, noting that Prime Minister Abdulrahman … [Read more...]

The Libyan Woman’s New Libya

This piece was written by a Guest Contributor, Summar Shammakhi.The interim Libyan leader, Mustapha Abdul Jalil declared Libya liberated on the 23rd October. The content of his twenty or so minute speech was a tribute to the February 17 revolution. He thanked all the brave men and women, all the martyrs, all the injured and all who suffered not only during the eight months of fighting for freedom but for forty two years of extreme imprisonment and oppression.Jalil’s speech, however, w … [Read more...]

Libya’s Girl Executioners and Gun-Brandishing Newscasters

Nisreen Mansour al Forgani, centre, with fellow Gaddafi female militia members. She is now under armed rebel guard in a Tripoli hospital. Picture: AFP Gender roles are nowhere more prominent than in war, as we see male political and military leaders taking the most visible roles in armed conflicts, promoting the tendency to see the capacity to inflict violence as inherently male. During the six months of Libya's revolt, amid stories of women working in hospitals and sending food to the fighters, … [Read more...]

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...]

The Woman who Wasn’t There: Aisha Gaddafi in the Press

With the recent release of the suspected Pan Am 103 bomber, the 40th anniversary of Gaddafi's coup, and improving relations with the west, Libya's been in the news a lot lately. Next week,  Colonel Muammar al Gaddafi (Libya’s quirky dictator, known as much for his peculiar fashion sense as his outrageous statements) will make his first-ever trip to the U.S. to address the U.N. General Assembly. The media’s attention will undoubtedly be fixated on Gaddafi, who always travels with a high-profile en … [Read more...]