Libya’s Democratic Moment

 

Tripoli

Libyan Women Relished Their Right To Vote

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.

Hurry Up

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.

Searching The Voter Lists

Libyans Head To The Polls Amid Federalist Agitation in Benghazi

Tripoli

“Libyans will go to the polls this weekend for the first time in almost a half-century. For many—from young YouTube progressives who advertised the uprising that ousted Moammar Gadhafi to grizzled dissidents who endured years of prison—the election will be the fulfillment of a dream. Or it should be.” My Maclean’s piece published earlier this week.

Libya: Two Competing Realities of Women

Tripoli

Will they be heard?

From article in Newsweek/Daily Beast: “At times there are two competing realities in post-Gaddafi Libya. For most ordinary Libyan women, there’s domestic drudgery and subordination to their men. For the more educated, drawn from higher ranks and involved in newly minted nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), there’s hope of change and greater opportunities. The two realities seldom meet…

Another fight will be over changing the judicial code. Currently, there’s no such crime as spousal rape. Activists want to see that changed and want to see the banning of rape victims being prosecuted for adultery or judges coercing rape victims and rapists to marry in order to restore “family honor,” something that condemns a woman to a life of injustice.”

Libya: Civil Society And NGOs Squeezed

Tripoli

The Daily Beast ran an exclusive today from me on the new Libyan authorities aiming to cut the financial lifeline of domestic NGOs — namely, funding from overseas counterparts and partners. This is how the push-back on civil society started in neighboring Egypt earlier this year. There is a real behind-the-scenes tussle going on here in Libya between three main blocs: progressives who see this revolution as their property; Islamists, who are far better organized and more rooted than the liberals; and the old Gaddafi business and administrative elite who want to protect what they have. The next few months here are going to be fascinating as this plays out.

What To Tell The Children

A U.S.-educated woman here in Tripoli told me that during the Libyan revolution when NATO was bombing targets in Tripoli her three children – ages, 12, 8 and 5 – were very excited. “Weren’t they scared?” I asked. She responded: “No, because we told them the bombing was hurting bad people and was being done by people who were coming to help us. Our parents were saying, ‘don’t tell them that, we don’t know who will win and Gaddafi could come back.'”