“’Egypt is Islamic, it will not be secular!’ Islamist supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi have taken to chanting this slogan during street protests in Cairo. While the mantra fills opponents of the Egyptian president with dread, as does a Morsi-backed draft Constitution ensuring laws and rights will be strictly subordinated to sharia law, such chants would hardly prove controversial in Libya, Egypt’s neighboring Arab-Spring country—nor would they propel tens of thousands onto the streets of Tripoli or Benghazi to express dissent.”
“A year on from the ouster of Col. Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan revolution is turning sour for women, who had hoped that they would find the new Libya open to them to play a far greater role in public and political life—and on their terms rather than those defined by men.”
Now they are battling to get women on a planned constitutional body tasked with coming up with a new constitution for the new post-Gaddafi Libya. Read full report here.
On Eve of Eid: Bani Walid refugees near the town of Tarhuna
Slow in blogging this but this from my Daily Beast report on October 24 on the fall of Bani Walid after nearly a month-long siege and four days of fierce fighting and bombardment.
“Militiamen in pickup trucks poured into the wrecked and smoke-filled center of the desert hilltop town of Bani Walid, home to one of the country’s biggest tribes, the Warfalla, amid cries of “Free Libya” and “Allah Akbar” in scenes reminiscent of the uprising against Col. Gaddafi.
They waved the post-Gaddafi tricolor flag of red, black, and green and claimed they had routed the late dictator’s diehard followers and saved the revolution. But they admitted many hardcore Bani Walid fighters had slipped away during the night.
Bani Walid’s leaders argue that Misrata was engaged in an exercise in collective punishment with their assault as punishment for the town having sided with Col. Gaddafi during the uprising.”
“For three days now, Bani Walid—one of Gaddafi’s holdouts during the rebellion last year—has come under intense assault, and defenders inside the town say by phone that they fear government-backed attackers are preparing to storm them on today in a bid to vanquish them on the first anniversary of the rebels’ triumph over Gaddafi.” My Daily Beast report near the besieged town.
I examine in the Daily Beast where Libya is a year on from the fall of Col. Gaddafi, noting that 12 months ago in Benghazi, as cheering onlookers waved the country’s new red, black, and green flag, one rebel leader told the crowd: “Raise your heads high. You are now in a free Libya.” Exactly one year after that historic day, heads are not being held as high in Libya.
“At the consulate, smoke in the burning villa was thinning out; crowds of curiosity seekers and looters were moving in. As they rummaged through the building, they came across a blond man in a white shirt and gray pants, his nose and mouth blackened by soot and body fluids. They dragged him out through the window at the back of the villa. ‘The man is alive,’ shouted someone in the crowd. ‘Move out of the way.’” With my colleagues at Newsweek, a take on what happened the night Ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed.
From my Newsweek/Daily Beast coverage today of a major report detailing what happened to 15 Libyan opponents of Col. Gaddafi when they fell into the hands of the CIA:
“One former detainee alleged he was water-boarded while held at a CIA-controlled prison in Afghanistan and another described to HRW undergoing water torture but without a board being used. The testimony contradicts claims by Bush administration officials, who told Congress only three men had ever been water-boarded while in U.S. custody. The two Libyans were not among those named by Michael Hayden to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on February 5, 2008, raising questions about whether the then CIA director misled Congress or was lied to by his subordinates.”
TRIPOLI —”In the dimly lit gardens and sumptuous restaurants of the city’s Rixos Hotel, Libya’s newly minted politicians are bargaining furiously over who will be the country’s first elected prime minister since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi.” Read my VOA story examining who might be Libya’s first post-election prime minister.
“Nine months after the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi, factions on both sides of the conflict continue to hunt down their enemies, especially in the loyalist stronghold of Sirte.” My latest dispatch for Newsweek/Daily Beast.
Libyans in Tripoli achieved two rare things today. They formed orderly lines, patiently waiting their turn, and they voted for the first time in half a century to choose who governs their country. For some, this democratic moment was almost too much to bear, prompting tears and praise for Allah for bestowing such a gift. From my first filing yesterday for the Daily Beast on Libyans democratic moment.
And from my second Daily Beast piece: Delight mounted as the day unfolded, as Libyans began to take in their “democratic moment.” Many expressed sheer pleasure at exercising their right to vote—and also seemed a little amazed. “We never imagined we would ever be doing this,” said Aishe Liab, a social worker. Speaking at a polling station in the district of Fashlun, where lines formed quickly in the morning when the polls opened at 8 a.m., she said she had been up all night unable to sleep.
But delight was also mixed with relief. Libyans had feared these elections would be derailed by widespread bloodletting.