Arab Today, arab today libyan minority rights at crossroads
Last Updated : GMT 02:05:18
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Libyan minority rights at crossroads

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Libyan minority rights at crossroads

Tripoli - Arabstoday

Since Muammar Gaddafi fall seven months ago, Libya’s non-Arab minorities, including an estimated 250,000 Tuaregs, have begun more vehemently to insist on their rights. “Gaddafi\'s policy was ‘keep your dog hungry so that he follows you’,” said one Tuareg activist, al-Hafiz Mohamed Sheikh. “This means keeping people in need. With Tuaregs, he said many times that we would have our rights, but he never fulfilled his promises. Sometimes he would favour some individuals, but not whole communities.” Flying over the ramshackle houses in Tayuri settlement in Libya’s southwestern city of Sebha are the blue, green and yellow flags of the Imazighen (non-Arab minorities). During Gaddafi\'s time, the Imazighen, including the Tuaregs, experienced cultural and political marginalization, with the regime instituting an all-encompassing pan-Arabic ideology and refusing to recognize them as a distinct ethnic group indigenous to the country and the region. Since Gaddafi\'s fall, nine new local associations have emerged in Tayuri promoting the rights of Tuaregs. According to the International Crisis Group, the Arabization of Imazighen communities, “advanced more rapidly and completely in Libya than in any other Maghreb country”. Law 24 forbids the Imazighen, including Tuaregs, from giving their children non-Arab names, and those who attended cultural celebrations in neighbouring countries were arrested upon their return to Libya. While Gaddafi absorbed a large number of Tuaregs into his army and is said to have used a number of them as mercenaries during the uprising, many suffered from the same historic marginalization as other minority groups. Nine-tenths of Libyans live along the Mediterranean coast, and many see non-Arab southerners as belonging more to “Africa” than Libya. Tuaregs, a nomadic pastoralist group, are also found in Algeria, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. “Unacceptable” conditions Some Tuaregs are optimistic about the future, but despite the renewed sense of freedom, those living in Tayuri say the conditions in which they live are “unacceptable”. By comparison with other neighbourhoods in Sebha, homes in Tayuri are arranged haphazardly; the communities here say they receive little assistance from the state; and there is no proper sewage or refuse disposal system. “There is no infrastructure here at all,” said Mohamed Ahmad Othman, walking gingerly around electric cables scattered across the ground in between the houses. “The electricity here is not organized according to the laws and sometimes the kids that run around die from electric shocks,” he said. According to UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Chief of Mission Emmanuel Gignac, levels of poverty in Tayuri and other Tuareg neighbourhoods exceed those of other areas in Libya. “They have built the houses themselves, and malnourishment is probably more widespread,” he told IRIN. “Also there is a problem with education since many can’t register their children in schools. It is not a humanitarian crisis, but more of a structural problem.” Without access to the same services and opportunities as other Libyans, the future for many Tuareg youth is difficult. Those that manage to continue studying to university level are often later denied access to good jobs. “At the end of the day, the ones who are literate are in the same position as the ones who are illiterate, so they often get demoralized and there is no motivation to study or to do anything. Everywhere there is an obstacle,” said Sheikh. Thousands of non-Arabs like Tuaregs have no official documentation attesting to their citizenship. In Libya, the main proof of citizenship is the family booklet, in which all members of the family are listed and which is presented when applying for jobs, university studies and scholarships, or when taking out a loan from the bank. Tuaregs who have been in Libya for 100 years have managed to obtain these documents, but those who settled in the country 40 or 50 years ago were denied a family booklet and possess neither Libyan nor any other citizenship. “This camp is a result of a political problem, not an economic problem. Very few of us have nationality or passports, only identity cards,” said Issa Azaoui, a member of the Toumast Association in Tayuri. “We cannot travel for study or for medical treatment outside Libya, and we cannot even become a high-ranking officer in the army, or a minister, or buy property of our own.” In Oubari, a predominantly Tuareg region about 120km outside Sebha, Abdulsamad Mohamed, 60, told IRIN he is an original Libyan, but cannot apply for a passport or a family booklet. He pulls out the only two documents he has - one a piece of paper on which is listed the members of his family, the other a national ID card which he says he received after returning from a visit to Algeria. Under “nationality” is written “returnee”. “What does this mean? If someone asks which country I come from, do I say `returnee’?” he said. UNCHR’s Gignac said the Tuaregs are essentially stateless. “Under the former regime, there was no process to get nationality. Now it’s a legal and also an administrative issue, but you will need a system in future to apply the law,\" he said. According to the activists in Tayuri, community members approached Libya’s National Transition Council (NTC) chairperson Mustafa Abdel Jalil to grant citizenship to those who have Libyan origins but were told that this would only happen after the 19 June elections. As a result, determining who has Libyan origins remains a challenge, especially for those who do not have any documents. And in a place like Sebha where porous borders to the south have exacerbated xenophobic fears of the country being infiltrated by foreigners, and already existing prejudices against communities like the Tuaregs, the question of who is truly Libyan might become a highly explosive issue in future. “The term `Libyan origins’ is unclear. If you look at the history, the Imazighen are the original people of Libya. But for the government, the original Libyan is one who speaks Arabic. It\'s a kind of racism,” said Khamena, a Tuareg elder in Tayuri. Ahead of the June elections, the absence of family booklets among large numbers of minority communities in the south threatens to exclude them from registering as voters. To circumvent the problem, the government has allowed those with an alternative family document, as well as a driver’s license or national ID card, to register. Voting in the elections, however, constitutes only one aspect of wider political participation. Some are afraid that when they are eventually given documents, these will not be the same as the ones held by other Libyans, continuing the ongoing cycle of discrimination. Another concern is that those without documents cannot run for political office. In Murzuq, an area said to be currently controlled by the minority Tubu community, a large percentage of the population do not have documents. “Elections here are based on tribal affiliations. In some countries minorities have some kind of representation, but we are afraid that we will have no parliamentary representation at all,” said Yusuf Soghi, the outreach coordinator for the local council in Murzuq. The NTC had one Tuareg member from Oubari, Mossa Elkony, but he resigned over frustrations concerning the way Tuareg communities in Ghadamis have been treated by the central government. He told IRIN he is not optimistic about the future, but said whoever takes his place following the elections will have to work very hard. “There are even some people who think the Tuaregs should have all their documents removed and be sent out of Libya,” he said. “And now, it seems like a minor problem, but it could spiral into something bigger, like in Mali. The Tuaregs there have established their own country, Azawad.” Those living in Oubari concur that Libya will pay the price if minority communities are not given their full rights like other Libyan citizens. “It’s a strategic and a security problem for Libya. If the Tuaregs are given full rights, they know this area and they can bring stability against trafficking and illegal immigration. The government does not realize this,” said Mohamed Abselwelik al-Ansari, head of the al-Ansar Tuareg community sub-tribe. “Otherwise, the suffering of the Tuaregs in each country can become a major threat to the stability of the region.”

Name *

E-mail *

Comment Title*

Comment *

: Characters Left

Mandatory *

Terms of use

Publishing Terms: Not to offend the author, or to persons or sanctities or attacking religions or divine self. And stay away from sectarian and racial incitement and insults.

I agree with the Terms of Use

Security Code*

Arab Today, arab today libyan minority rights at crossroads Arab Today, arab today libyan minority rights at crossroads


Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Fadi explains secrets of  Nancy Ajram's newlook

GMT 18:23 2017 Friday ,24 February

Fadi explains secrets of  Nancy Ajram's newlook
Arab Today, arab today Tourist guide explains types of tourism

GMT 18:28 2017 Saturday ,25 February

Tourist guide explains types of tourism
Arab Today, arab today Expresses Algerian history by woody figures

GMT 13:26 2017 Friday ,24 February

Expresses Algerian history by woody figures
Arab Today, arab today Iran complying with nuclear deal

GMT 07:14 2017 Saturday ,25 February

Iran complying with nuclear deal
Arab Today, arab today Zainab al-Maliki reveals herTV presenter models

GMT 18:12 2017 Friday ,24 February

Zainab al-Maliki reveals herTV presenter models
View News in Arabic - Country: أخبار المدن
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Reading therapy relieves mental disorders

GMT 15:39 2017 Friday ,24 February

Reading therapy relieves mental disorders
Arab Today, arab today UK appoints 1st Scotland Yard chief in 188 years

GMT 05:14 2017 Thursday ,23 February

UK appoints 1st Scotland Yard chief in 188 years
Arab Today, arab today Penguins in the age of dinos

GMT 11:44 2017 Saturday ,25 February

Penguins in the age of dinos
Arab Today, arab today Pluto's unruly moons

GMT 06:31 2015 Thursday ,04 June

Pluto's unruly moons
Arab Today, arab today 'Constructive' Vauxhall talk with union

GMT 08:54 2017 Saturday ,25 February

'Constructive' Vauxhall talk with union
Arab Today, arab today Tesla back into red but revenue grows

GMT 07:27 2017 Thursday ,23 February

Tesla back into red but revenue grows
Arab Today, arab today Actress Lobna Abdel Aziz proud of her career

GMT 06:08 2017 Thursday ,23 February

Actress Lobna Abdel Aziz proud of her career
Arab Today, arab today Ex-yoga missionary unleashes rage

GMT 12:16 2017 Thursday ,23 February

Ex-yoga missionary unleashes rage

GMT 07:36 2017 Wednesday ,22 February

Wafaa Amer is happy for Sherihan’s return

GMT 12:35 2017 Tuesday ,21 February

63-Year-Old Woman Delivers Baby

GMT 22:42 2017 Thursday ,23 February

Nasima Gamei revives heritage in jewelries

GMT 10:28 2017 Wednesday ,22 February

Milan laughs while Rome cries

GMT 20:33 2017 Friday ,17 February

To release new antiques collection

GMT 10:20 2017 Thursday ,23 February

Brazil's top diplomat resigns

GMT 11:54 2017 Thursday ,23 February

Saudis await visitors but will they come?

GMT 13:12 2015 Saturday ,09 May

Sheikh Sultan opens Sharjah Centre

GMT 20:02 2017 Tuesday ,21 February

Nohan Seyam designs beautiful accessories
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
 Arab Today Facebook,arab today facebook  Arab Today Twitter,arab today twitter Arab Today Rss,arab today rss  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
بناية النخيل - رأس النبع _ خلف السفارة الفرنسية _بيروت - لبنان
arabstoday, Arabstoday, Arabstoday