Multiple attacks on Sufi religious and historical sites last week highlight two threats to Libya’s democratic transition: Islamic extremism and the failure of the government to take action. On 25 August, Salafist extremists destroyed a Sufi shrine and library in Zlitan. The following day, Salafist extremists attacked the Sha’ab Mosque in Tripoli, which contained the graves of revered Sufi figures. In response, Libyan activists, local civil society groups, and international organizations, such as UNESCO, have protested these attacks, calling on the government to protect historical Sufi sites.
In December 2010, responding to alleged statements attributed to him by Wikileaks, he proposed the use of “carrier pigeons or horseback mail, which is more secure.”
I have wanted to write something focusing on Walid Jumblatt for quite sometime. He is by far my favorite Lebanese politician–mainly for his odd charm and refreshingly frank statements (see above). However, he also possesses a unique ability to maneuver through Lebanese politics enabling the Druze community that he represents–and his Progressive Socialist party–to punch above its demographic weight.
BBC describes him as “the country’s political weathervane—consistently emerging on the winning side through the twists and turns of the 1975-90 civil war and its troubled aftermath.”
After 42 years under the tight grip of Muammar al-Gaddafi, Libya is not only experiencing a political revolution but also a media revolution. The tightly controlled state-run media of the Gaddafi regime allowed no room for free expression or criticism. As the revolution which began in February of 2011 spread across Libya, numerous media outlets emerged including more than 300 dailies and weeklies according to the news website Magharebia. During a trip to Libya late last year, I noticed new newspapers with their first editions on sale at news stands on a weekly basis.