May 25th, 2012

Analysis: Libyan minority rights at a crossroads


24 May 2012 (IRIN) - Since Muammar Gaddafi’s 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.

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Posted by MK Toro