Libya’s Berber Minorities Renew Call for Equality
Libya’s Berber minorities renewed demands for cultural and language rights and full integration into the country. Despite disappointing results in previous attempts, Libya’s revolutionary success has Berber activists convinced their goals are now achievable. Said Henshir, co-founder of Libyan Amazigh Youth Assembly, said they have some demands of the new government. “We want the full rights of language and culture granted in the previously marginalized Amazigh areas without any restrictions whatsoever,” said Henshir. “We want to be treated as 100 percent Libyans, not as a minority, and not as if we were faking being Libyan.” According to Henshir, Berbers aren’t looking for special status, only the acknowledgment that all Libyans “are connected with the ties of blood and the blood that has been spilled.”
Meanwhile, Employees of Benghazi’s Hawari Hospital are striking in protest of a lack of security for its staff. Attacks on medical professionals are on the rise in hospitals across the country, and the employees of Hawari Hospital “are concerned that they are unable to carry out their work safely, after a series of dangerous incidents,” according to the Libya Herald. Many of the attacks involved militia members, who have targeted both patients and employees.
Additionally, Omar Ashour explored the factors that led to the electoral defeat of Libya’s Islamists. According to Ashour, part of the reason involves the suppression of Islamist groups under Qaddafi, leading to their inability to build support networks like their Egyptian and Tunisian counterparts, and lingering resentment over conflicts in the 1990s. However, another reason was related to campaign rhetoric. One Islamic Studies graduate told Ashour, “It is offensive to tell me that I have to vote for an Islamic party,” adding, “In Libya, we are Muslims. They can’t take away my identity and claim that it’s only theirs.”