عندما يذهب الشامي إلى افريقيا : Le Levant va en Afrique

تونس 17 جوان 2016: حوالي التاسعة و النصف صباحا

جلست في الصالة رقم 50 في مطار تونس قرطاج الدولي أنتظر رحلتي إلى بيروت و بجانبي فتاتان افريقيتان تنتظران أيضا  مثلي ربما رحلتهما الأولى إلى بلد الأرز. تصفحت الانترنت فقط لأضيع الوقت و بين الفينة و الأخرى أسترق النظر إلى وجوه المسافرين. أنا أعشق النظر إلى وجوه الناس من مختلف الأجناس و الأعراق . لكن هذه المرة تمعنت في الوجوه و كذلك جوازات سفر المسافرين: كانت جلها من بلدان افريقية فرنكوفونية. ركزت نظري على عائلتين ذات ملامح عربية : واحدة متكونة من سيدتين محجبتين و فتى، وتجلس غير بعيد عنهم فتاة افريقية طويلة القامة و ملامحها تدل على الأرجح أنها من السينغال وزادتها هيبة ضفائرها الافريقية و هي تمشي بأنفة غير معهودة  من خادمة مرافقة للعائلة اللبنانية. العائلة الأخرى غير تقليدية متكونة من رجل عربي الملامح في الستين أو السبعين من العمر مع ابنه الثلاثيني او الاربعيني وترافقه فتاة افريقية بشعرها الاصطناعي المنسوج (weave-tissage)

و سمرتها التي تتراوح بين الداكنة و الفاتحة بعض الشيء وكانا الاثنان يتبادلان أطراف الحديث  في انسجام نادر توحي بأنهما متزوجين حديثين. واصلت التمعن في مسافرين آخرين حتى وقع نظري على فتاة فليبينة كانت تجوب الصالة بطفل صغير في عربة أطفال تدفعها، بينما كانت الأم اللبنانية منهمكة بطفلين آخرين أكبر منه سنا.

فجأة أعلنت المضيفة التونسية عن موعد فتح باب صعود الطائرة فهرع الجميع أطفالا ,، شبابا و شيوخا للصعود و تتالت أغلب جوارات السفر بين السنيغال و بوركينافاسو و لبنان و كان بعض المسافرين مزدوجي الجنسية : لبناني و جنسية بلد افريقي. كان الأمر مدهشا، غريبا ، غير مألوف رؤية جنسيتين عادة متناقضتين متنافرتين من قارتين مختلفتين لا يجمع تاريخهما شيء إلا في تفاصيل الهجرة الشامية إلى بلدان افريقيا الغربية أو ما يسمى أحيانا بالشتات اللبناني في بلدان افريقيا الغربية

(la diaspora libanaise en Afrique de l’ouest)

كان الحديث بين المسافرين يدور باللغات العربية و الفرنسية و الانجليزية ، وحال وصولي لمطار رفيق الحريري ببيروت وجدت أن  كل اليافطات باللغات الثلاث شيء غير معتاد لم أره في ألبلدان التي زرتها في العالم

“Bonjour Madame”, “Sorry”, “انتي تتكلمي عربي؟”: lost in translation

كيف لشعب أن يراوح أو بالأحرى يتأرجح بين 3 لغات بلباقة قل نظيرها في أي بلد في العالم؟

بدت لي بيروت  كمدينة بلفاست عاصمة ايرلندا الشمالية: كلتا المدينتين شهدتا حربا أهلية ضروسا قتل فيها عديد الآلاف من الناس، لكن لا يوجد جدار السلام في بيروت مثل   بلفاست و الذي يفصل الاحياء الكاثوليكية عن البروتستانتية. كما أنه لم يتسنى لي لأن أشاهد ، إن وجدت اللوجات الجدارية التي بنت بلفاست شهرتها العالمية منها و جلبت سياحا من جميع أنحاء العالم لرؤية المتحف المفتوح  ،والذي يقص تاريخ ايرلندا النضالي ضد الاستعمار البريطاني و التضامن الايديولوجي مع اسرائيل لدى الملكيين البروتستانت أو مع فلسطين لدى الكاثوليك  الجمهوريين

لا يمكنني الحكم لأني لم ارى سوى جزء صغير من بيروت مقتصرة على منطقة الحمراء و ما جاورها

غادرت باريس الشرق الأوسط بعد يومين و نصف رحلة عمل إلى تونس و في مطار بيروت لمحت رجلا في اواخر الاربعين من عمره بدت على وجهه  الحيرة و شيء من الاحباط عندما كان يسجل أمتعته في رحلة الخطوط التونسية و كنت وراءه أنتظر تسجيل حقيبتي.

سألني باللغة الفرنسية إذا تكرمت و ساعدته على تسجيل وسادتين كبيرتين معي ،خاصة و أني سجلت حقيبة ظهر خفيفة و لم أكن أعلم أن لدي الحق في تسجيل حقيبة أخرى  مع الخطوط التونسية. طلب مني بلطف أن أساعده و إلا فإنه سيضطر لدفع مبلغ 105 دولار أمريكي لتمرير متاعه في التسجيل على الرحلة . قبلت طلبه و بدت ملامح الفرح و الامتنان على وجه الرجل سألته بالفرنسية : “من أي بلد أنت”؟

“أنا أصلي لبناني لكنني من مالي”

في الطائرة جلس بجانبي شاب شوري اسمه باسل و كانت ملامح التعب تبدو على وجهه: “غادرت اللاذقية منذ الساعة 2 صباحا لبيروت و سأتجه

“بعد تونس إلى داكار  أين سألتقي بسوريين هناك

وصلنا إلى مطار تونس قرطاج مع الساعة الرابعة مساء بالتوقيت المحلي و التقيت ب”آلان” المالي ،هذا هو اسمه،  في صالة الامتعة

آلان اشتغل منشطا موسيقيا في راديو في ابيدجان اكبر مدن ساحل العاج و لكن بسبب الاضطرابات الامنية في البلد في 2011 اضطر لمغادرة البلاد و ذهب لقطر أين اشتغل لبضع سنوات قبل أن يضطر لأن يغادر الخليح  مؤخرا

آلان: “لم استطع التأقلم مع العقلية العربية بصفة عامة

“آلان :”لم لا تعود و تسكن في لبنان؟

آلان: “لا استطيع لاني تعودت على العيش في مالي و ساحل العاج, زد على ذلك المستوى المعيشي غالي و الرواتب متدنية و صراحة لن أتأقلم مع العقلية اللبنانية . أنا ولدت ببماكو و عندما كنت صغيرا كنت اتكلم البامبارا و لكن نسيتها عندما كبرت ، درست علوم تسويق في جامعة مونريال في 1986 و رجعت و تزوجت لبنانية و رزقت باربعة أطفال و لكن الزواج لم يدم طويلا فتزوجت ثانية و ان شاء الله ارزق بطفل آخر و حاليا سأعود إلى أبيدجان للعمل. الناس يعرفونني هناك”

كان آلان متخوفا أن يضايقه أعوان الجمارك في مطار تونس قرطاج

“سألوني عن وجهتي و لماذا جئت لتونس بسبب جواز سفري اللبناني ربما لكن الحمد لله كمواطن مالي لا أحتاج إلى تأشيرة لتونس ”

“قلت له :” أنت محظوظ أنك عوملت أحسن من أبناء بلدك الماليين السود في تونس

آلان : ” صحيح للاسف شيء محزن

غادرنا المطار و وجد آلان أصدقاءه التونسيين في انتظاره للبقاء معهم أربع أيام (كان فرحا بأنه سيكتشف تونس لاول مرة) قبل الرجوع إلى الوطن الاخر في افريقيا

IMG_3356

صورة التقطتها حال وصولي إلى مطار رفيق الحريري ببيروت 

 

 

 

 

 

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إجابة على مقال ” الفرنكوفونية أو داعش” لفوزية الزواري في جون أفريك

نقطة نظام
سأقولها بالعربية لأنها تعبر خير (و حتى لا يشعر بعض الاصدقاء الفرنكوفونيين و الفرنسيين بالحساسية المفرطة تجاه لغتهم أو بلدهم و لو أن البعض منهم اصبح يعرف موقفي و نقدي اللاذع في هذا الموضوع ) لكن اريد التذكير اني لست من دعاة الشعبوية و العنتريات حول اللغة العربية و وصم من يستعمل لغة غير لغته الام بانه باع نفسه للمستعمر و غيرها من الاتهامات الشعبوية السخيفة كما اني لست من الانبطاحيين في مسالة اللغة الفرنسية و دكتاتورية التكلم بها مع الفرنسيين في بلد عربي اسلامي امازيغي افريقي كتونس. تونس عضو في منظمة جدلية ذات توجه نيوكولونيالي (استعماري جديد) اسمها الفرنكوفونية لم تستفد منها تونس كما استفادت الباكستان و نيجيريا و الهند من الكومنولث لكن الضرب في الميت حرام خاصة و ان بلدا فرنكوفونيا بامتياز مثل السينيغال قرر منذ سنوات ان يعيش زواج متعة مع لغة مستعمره السابق لانه تفطن اخيرا ان السيادة
الوطنية تمر باستعمال اللغة الوطنية الوولوف.
الكتابة بالفرنسية او العربية اصبح تعبيرا سياسيا عن مواقف معينة من قضية السيادة و تركة الاستعمار الثقيلة (الجزائر نموذجا). لا اشهر بالعار او الدونية بسبب الفرنسية او الفرنكوفونية لان تاريخ بلدي محكوم باختيارات سياسية لزعماء سياسيين لديهم من الشعبوية ما جعل تركتهم محل جدل و نقاش بعد موتهم (بورقيبة و بومدين كنماذج).

الرابط للمقال بالفرنسية

zouari diatribe

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Prickly Pears: “King of Fruits” Prized by Tunisians Only When Peeled

Houda Mzioudet | 13 September 2012

With summer drawing to a close and the beginning of the school year just around the corner, a peculiar Tunisian fruit has recently made an appearance in downtown Tunis’ backstreets. Carts full of red and green prickly pears mixed in with ice dot the streets leading in and out of the main train station of Place Barcelone and the neighboring Bab Jedid market.

“Hindi Thala ya wakkala” (come and eat Thala Hindi), one can hear when walking past these carts of colorful fruits.

Prickly pears, which come from the cactus plant and are nationally known as Hindi (literally meaning Indian), are consumed by a large segment of the Tunisian population for its texture and sweet taste as a dessert. As such, it has garnered the title as the “king of summer fruits.”

“People come mostly to eat prickly pears around lunch time,” Ali Briki, a 38 year-old prickly pear street vendor, told Tunisia Live while serving two customers, who stopped to buy the cactus fruit at around 10 a.m. One of the clients, a professional man in his mid 50s and dressed in a grey suit and white shirt, ate a hara, or four pieces, of peeled cactus fruits before setting off spryly to work.

In spite of the fruit’s prized taste, Tunisians will not go out of their way to pick prickly pears and peel them themselves. The cactus fruit is mostly sought after only once it has already been peeled by the street vendor selling.

Customers want to be spared a prickle or two in peeling the cactus and are not willing to expend much effort on what has been known for decades as the “fruit of the poor.”

This tendency to abstain from prickly pears unless peeled has brought about a popular phrase among Tunisians, “looking for Hindi Meqacher (peeled prickly pears).” The expression refers to anyone who seeks out a living without making much effort.

Briki set outs to the streets everyday, displaying his cart full of differently hued prickly pears from morning until 1 p.m. People stop at his cart to buy four prickly pears at half a dinar ($0.30). “I have been doing this job for the last nine to ten years,” he said in a quiet voice. “My father used to have a prickly pear cart in Tunis, and he passed it to me afterwards.”

Briki makes around fifteen dinars a day from selling prickly pears. He, nevertheless, complained that the overall cultivation of prickly pears has decreased in recent years.
Tunisia has favorable soil for the production of prickly pears of different kinds and colors – green, yellow, violet, red, and orange.

Historically, prickly pears were brought to Tunisia in the 16th century by Moors expelled from the Iberian Peninsula. They brought with them cactus saplings from the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. Originally, prickly pears were brought to Spain from its erstwhile colonies in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America.

Certain areas in Tunisia have become renowned for their harvests of prickly pears.

The towns of Thala and Kairouan are known for the significant amounts of prickly pears they produce for the domestic market, especially that of the capital city Tunis. Thala, in particular, is known for its unique variety of red colored Indian cactus, which is harvested from late August to early September.

Bouarghoub in the northeastern Cap Bon peninsula specializes in varieties of prickly pears known as Bianca, Giallo, and Rosa for their respectively white, yellow, and pink hues. The Cap Bon region, historically known for its vineyards, began producing prickly pears 20 years ago.

Briki picks up his daily box of prickly pears from the Bab Jedid market, near the Old Medina. “A box costs me between eight and nine dinars. I usually go in the afternoons when trucks come loaded with prickly pears from Kairouan, Thala, Sidi Bouzid, and Bouargoub,” he explained.

Prickly pears are known for causing constipation if eaten in large quantities so it advised to drink water after eating it. It is still prized for easing the digestion of its consumers. Prickly pears have also medical and therapeutic benefits. They contain fiber, vitamins, proteins, antioxidants, and sugars.

The attraction to prickly pears go beyond their taste. Cosmetics, toiletries and oil (cactus oil) are produced from the plant, which has increased the demand for the production of prickly pears from cosmetics laboratories.

This article first appeared in Tunisia Live news website on 13 September, 2012.

http://www.tunisia-live.net/2012/09…-fruits-prized-by-tunisians-only-when-peeled/

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Femme voilée: la nouvelle négresse selon Laurence Rossignol

L’approche paternaliste-colonialiste et son obsession parfois “malsaine” par le corps de la femme non-occidentale. Haro à cette occidentalisation forcée des moeurs et coutumes des “non-blancs”. Il est temps que la femme non-occidentale parle pour elle-même , affiche sa beauté à elle sans contrainte de la mode; dont certains paranoïaques de l’islamisation du monde “civilisé” crient au loup chaque fois une femme en Afghanistan, Soudan ou Pakistan se fait fouetter ou lapider pour avoir “oser occidentaliser son corps”.
Haro à une dictature féministe en Occident et ailleurs qui se désolidarise des femmes libres, épanouies, belles avec leurs voiles (qui ne l’est pas pour certain(e)s et ça se comprend parfaitement), actives, féministes et courageuses à faire face à une diabolisation d’un choix libre, libérateur et réfléchi.
Oser afficher un corps de femme indigène insoumise en dehors des stéréotypes du harem du Sultan est un combat qui doit se faire par toutes les féministes du monde sans concession à la dictature machiste mondialiste (dont la mode en est coupable aussi) qui veut faire muer la voix de la femme non-occidentale (et par extension non-occidentalisée). Et même si elle fait partie d’une minorité silencieuse dans le monde qui dérange une majorité longtemps au monopole de la parole, discours unique et sans équivoque

Aida Touihri et Hapsatou Sy s’indigent de la campagne anti-voile par l’Establishment française

Les propos de Laurence Rossignol, le ministre de la femme française contre le voile sur RMC

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Ode au voyage

« Les voyages forment la jeunesse », écrivit Montaigne il y a plus de quatre siècles et ça reste toujours l’adage de raison pour beaucoup de gens, amoureux de l’aventure et de la découverte des contrées les plus lointaines, sauvages, mystérieuses. Cela fait rêver plus d’un. Cependant, être né(e) dans un continent pauvre, meurtri par les fléaux et les conflits les plus atroces, spoliée de ses richesses, parfois même oublié par l’histoire, voyager s’est toujours fait « métaphoriquement ». Quand on dispose d’un dollar par jour et qu’avoir un livre est une aubaine à Niamey ou à Tombouctou, c’est une chance de plus pour ces petits enfants qui n’ont pas cessé de voyager à travers ces livres apportés par des charitables philanthropes communément appelés « les membres d’ONG ».
Enfant, la lecture a été pour moi une évasion, une escapade vers un monde « meilleur », une découverte fascinante de nouveaux horizons. Mon père n’a jamais cessé de nourrir cette passion en moi (il avait beaucoup voyagé lui-même étant jeune). Je dévorais des encyclopédies sur l’histoire de l’Amérique, d’Europe, d’Asie, d’Océanie et Antique. Mes héros étaient Simon Bolivar, un certain George Washington (il n ‘a rien à envier à son compatriote actuel G.W. Bush) confronté à un Sitting Bull puissant. J’ai découvert les atrocités les plus ignobles commises à l’égard de certains peuples au nom de la mission la plus civilisatrice de convertir ces païens à la religion chrétienne. Un terrible sort qu’a subi de millions d’esclaves déportés vers le nouveau monde. Mais aussi ce qu’ont enduré les Aborigènes d’Australie pour en citer d’autres. Cela n’a pas moins renforcé mon désir d’apprendre encore plus sur l’histoire humaine, la vérité sur une histoire mainte révisée et réécrite pour donner justice à tout les oubliée(e)s de la terre. En grandissant, ma découverte s’est de plus en plus développée grâce à « Thalassa » sur France 3 ou encore « Lonely Planet » ou l’on découvre des peuples divers, différents de moi, d’autres qui sont comme moi, mais que je découvre sous un nouveau jour. J’ai appris que les hommes sont égaux durant ces multiples voyages, que l’homme noir n’est pas moins intelligent, plus physique ou autre imbécile, moins beau que l’homme blanc. Cela a renforcé une fierté que je n’aurais pas senti en tant qu’arabe, encore moins tunisienne.
Ayant été élevé dans la musique noire en particulier le Reggae et le Soul (la vraie nourriture de l’esprit), côtoyé des étrangers à l’école ou à l’université, et enfin mon premier voyage en Europe de toute ma vie (une chance pour moi) m’a encore plus ouvert les yeux sur d’autres cultures. Etre méditerranéenne est une expérience extraordinaire : ce « melting pot » de cultures différentes les unes des autres mais aussi très identiques. Cela m’a permis de m’ouvrir plus sur le monde extérieur. Le choc n’en était pas plus de découvrir un pays comme le Royaume Uni ; totalement différent du mien avec sa culture très « étrange » : la culture anglo-saxonne. Heureusement, être angliciste m’a beaucoup aidé à amortir le choc au moins pour l’instant, sans pour autant subir l’effet « boomerang » que les médias s’amusent à utiliser tous les jours. La fascination pour l’autre, celui qui est différent de moi n’est pas un tabou pour moi à condition que cela n’affecte pas mes convictions qu’elles soient d’ordre moral, éthique, politique, religieux. L’Angleterre m’a fasciné et je trouve que c’est très dommage qu’on dénigre ce peuple pour son flegme, ses traditions très désuètes. C’est la que réside tout le charme de ce peuple très excentrique, qui ont un très bon sens de l’humour et surtout leur ouverture sur des cultures différentes de la mienne. Londres est une ville très cosmopolite avec plus de 300 langues parlées et 14 religions pratiquées ; toutes aussi différentes dans cette métropole jadis le centre du plus grande empire du 19ème et 20ème siècle.
Au nouveau millénaire, le monde n’a cessé de changer (et ce n’est certainement pas le 11 septembre 2001 qui est la cause) et les voyages se font de plus en plus souvent : devant son poste d’ordinateur, sa télé. Internet a certes facilité cette communication mais rien ne vaut une rencontre plus « humaine » entre les gens. Les échanges culturels se sont accélérés grâce à Internet et bien évidemment tout ceci sera impossible sans les médias sous toutes ses formes, qu’elles soient écrites, audio ou visuelles.

Houda Mzioudet
Tunis. Tunisie.
Septembre 2002.

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“Proxy” war and tribal conflict in the Libyan south

Mapping tribal conflict in the south:

 

While the war was raging between Hiftar-led forces and their Operation Dignity and his opponents, the Libya Dawn forces, a forum on peace and security on the African continent that gathered Sahel political leaders was taking place in Dakar in Senegal On 15 and 16 December 2014. Speaking to the audience, Chadian president, Idriss Déby Itno vociferously blasted the NATO allies for having failed to restore peace and stability in post-Gaddafi Libya, stressing that the solution is in the hands of NATO, “which created the (Libyan) disorder”. Chad, which has complained of the increasing presence of religious militant groups with “jihadist” ideology, is home to French military base, which has been watching over the moves of such groups in the region.

Since the fall of the Gaddafi regime following popular revolt of Libyan people and NATO intervention in March 2011, the North African nation fell prey to chaos and disorder that was exacerbated by the political vacuum left by the former regime, the proliferation of weapons in the country and the recent conflict between forces loyal to retired General Khalifa Hiftar and Libya Dawn forces and their allies in Western Libya. The south became gripped in such a conflict, which has been conflated with existing tribal conflicts, mainly those pitting the Tebus and the Tuaregs. The former are loosely allied to Libya Dignity forces led by Hiftar and the latter are allied to Libya Dawn with the city of Misrata, 200 km east of Tripoli, claiming to be the central force on the ground.

To complicate things, neighboring Sudan has entered the scene in a bid to contain the spillover effect of such a threat to it through its border with Libya. Kufra a southeastern Libyan oasis town is home to the Arab-majority Zwai tribe and the Tebu-minority tribe, which has witnessed bloody clashes in February 2012, in which scores of Tebus died; tribal conflicts that surfaced to the ground a few months after the overthrow of Gaddafi. Many Tebus have sought refuge in Ubari in 2012 following the clashes, represents this nexus in the Libyan-Sudanese relations.

A Tebu local from Kufra, Kalami Ramadan who fled with his family to Obari due to his political activism in 2012 following the clashes with Zway tribe, had to witness further clashes in the summer of 2014 between the Tebus and Tuaregs. He since returned to Kufra, where the warring Tebus and Zway tribes reached a peace deal in the summer of 2014[1].

Kufra got a respite as it sought to lead a normal life. The town had suffered from shortage of basic necessities, Internet and power outages throughout 2014.

Conversely, Murzuk, another oasis town in the southwest, east of Obari was not affected by tribal clashes and it remained calm. Yet it witnessed large influx of Tebus from Obari who fled due to the clashes between Tebus and Tuaregs in the town in September 2014. Tebus also make up a big part of the population of the town of Murzuk in the southwest.

As Abu W. Libyan media and civil society activist pointed out to me in November 2014 the issue has to do with ethnic and tribal sensitivities but mainly power ».

« Tribal clashes are caused by political vacuum, » he stressed. He conceded that conflicts in Libya are complex they start as criminal activities sometimes and later develop into political fights[2].

 

The Kufra connection: Sudan’s “ambiguous role” in the conflict

 

Kufra has become notorious for being the hub for illegal immigrants from neighboring Sudan since the fall of the Gaddafi regime. It is in its airport that a Sudanese plane was allegedly caught with weapons aboard in September 2014 when it landed to refuel before departing to Tripoli’s Mitiga airport. The local military leader of Kufra later denied that the plane was carrying weapons to arm Libya Dawn militants.

The fact that Sudan might have become entangled in the Libyan quagmire may be revealing of an escalating “proxy” war, that some analysts have described of the involvement of outside or foreign forces in the current conflict in Libya out since the beginning of Hiftar’s Operation Dignity in May 2014. With Libya Dawn, being largely supported by Turkey and to lesser extent Qatar – this latter’s support for Libyan Islamists has dwindled since the Libyan revolution, on the one hand, and of UAE, Egypt and sometimes Saudi Arabia supporting directly or indirectly Operation Dignity by General Hiftar, alliances between Libyan actors on the ground and the outside actors seem to be clear cut and the Libyan south has not been unaffected by such strategic alliances.

With the Tuaregs entering in a strategic alliance with Libya Dawn, represented by Misrata Third Force in the south, mainly in the Tuareg-majority regions of Ubari and Ghat, their Tebu counterparts largely chose to ally themselves with General Hiftar’s Operation Dignity. Tebus, who in 2012 had their lot of tribal conflict with the Arab tribe of Zway, found themselves pitted against the Tuaregs over alliances in the current conflict. Here Sudan’s entry in the scene signaled a turn of events when it became apparent that Libya’s southeastern neighbor has drawn suspicion as to its motives in sending a military transport with weapons and ammunitions in September 2014, despite the denial from the local military commander of Kufra and head of the Libyan side of the joint Libyan-Sudanese border control force, Colonel Suleiman Hamed Hassan[3].

Followed the incident the expulsion of Sudan’s military attaché in Libya, to which Sudanese government reacted by strongly denying having sent weapons to any of the protagonists in the conflict, and that it remains neutral. It also expressed its preoccupations by the repercussions of the conflict leading to instability, offering to mediate between the various factions on the ground, its foreign ministry spokesman in Khartoum stated in September 2014. Additionally, cooperation between Libya and Sudan on halting illegal immigration from Libya’s southern border has been activated last year with the creation of the joint Libyan-Sudanese border control force.

Illegal immigration remains another security challenge for the oasis town of Kufra adding to the region’s problems, but an issue that is being kept under control thanks to the Libyan-Sudanese cooperation. Kufra Department of Illegal Immigration continues to deport hundreds of illegal immigrants mainly from Sudan, Eritrea and Nigeria (in December 2014 it deported 248) and whom smugglers from Sudan and Chad, are using them, by charging them thousands of dollars to send them to northeastern Libya to be later sent on boats bound to Europe.

 

Prospects for containing the conflict

 

Generally, efforts at containing the conflict in the Libyan southeast, unlike in the southwest of the country proved to be relatively successful with Sudan “willingness” to find a solution to the conflict through its mediation efforts and the recent truce reached between Tuaregs and Tebus in the south to end hostilities. All this in the face of further challenges with rising threats of radical jihadist groups in the region and most recently the advance of Boko Haram to neighboring Niger and Chad, which may threaten Libya’s already faltering stability. African Union recent decision to send 8,000 strong troops to fight Boko Haram is another effort in containing the war in the Sahel region.

[1] Interview with the author in September 2014

[2] Interview with the author in November 2014

[3] Waleed, F.  « Update: Sudan weapons plane caught in Kufra Thursday”, September 6, 2014.

http://www.libyaherald.com/2014/09/06/update-sudan-weapons-plane-caught-in-kufra-thursday/#ixzz3QnfecXMi

 

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Libyan chaos lures Islamic State to establish a foothold in North Africa

While the world stood horrified at ISIL gruesome video dated 3rd February 2015 showing the killing of Jordanian pilot Muaz Al Kassassbeh being burnt alive, reactions ensued with Jordanian forces carrying out air strikes on ISIL positions in Mosul, Iraq the following day. A worldwide outrage and anger provoked at atrocities committed by IS militants in the Middle East. The Islamic State succeeded in galvanizing audiences in the Arab world to reject its brutality as “unislamic”, with Egypt’s Al Azhar, the highest Sunni Muslim religious authority issuing a fatwa prohibiting the showing of the terrorist group’s videos.

But IS did not only rally the world against it, it also managed to divert the attention- albeit temporarily, quite tactical maybe- from an almost forgotten conflict in North Africa because the world was busy recovering from the extent of IS’s theatricality of macabre execution styles. Until 15th February, the group resurfaced with its release of another disturbing video purporting it was shot in the coastal town of Sirte, 450 km east of the capital Tripoli, showing 21 Coptic Egyptians in orange overalls and being led along the beach by men clad in black. They were decapitated and their blood flowing in the Mediterranean Sea added to the world’s horror at the continuous terrorist group display of savagery. In act of defiance, one of the perpetrators of the execution of the 21 Coptic Egyptian workers (who were abducted in December 2014 in Gadadfi’s hometown) vowed to “conquer Rome” and defeat the “Crusaders”, while pointing the knife towards the turned-red sea in the direction of Europe. Europe that has been mobilized for a possible IS’ attack since 2014, when the group conquered swaths of lands in Syria and Iraq and has been threatening to conquer more lands in the region.

Prior to the video, IS has carried out a successful operation in the heart of the Libyan capital Tripoli, when two suicide bombers, one Tunisian and the other Sudanese , braved security of the luxurious hotel Corinthia. The hotel is where former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan used to stay (and was abducted by local militias in October 2013). It is also where a few Western embassies and companies have based themselves. The attack killed nine people, all foreigners and was claimed by the Islamic State of Tripoli, an IS-linked group.

It remains a mystery who the members of IS in Libya are in the current chaotic atmosphere where radical groups such as Ansar Sharia and other Al Qaeda-linked groups are also thought to have either defected with IS in order to

 

Now Libya has become the next target for IS’ expansionist projects, putting the North African strife-torn country in the headlines again since summer 2014 conflict. A conflict that pitted General Khalifa Hiftar and his Dignity Operation to the Tripoli-based Libya Dawn operation, supported by a coalition of Islamist-affiliated groups and the General National Congress which has been voted out in the June elections by the current House of Representatives and its Tobruk-based parliament.

 

Out of touch, out of coverage: what’s the frequency in Libya?

 

“Finally Libya is making the headlines,” exclaimed some Libyans on social network earlier this month. The world is finally going to care about Libya, its lingering conflict, but most importantly the international community will start acting about Libya, instead of just condemning, complained others. Libya again made headlines for the same (wrong or right) reasons: Islamic State.

The beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic workers 15 February 2015 brought Libya back into the headlines and the world attention, that has been diverted since summer 2014- when the country started to disintegrate into two rival governments, parliaments, torn apart by rival militias all vying for control of this oil-rich North African nation- by events in Syria, Egypt and more recently Yemen and the Huthis’ renewed rebellion that ousted president Abed Rabbo Yasser Mansoor on January 2015.

But amid the attrition war that claimed the lives of about 2,500 Libyans for the years 2014 alone and thousands more since the ousting of Gadadfi in October 2011, saw two of its main airports, Benghazi and Tripoli, literally destroyed after heavy fighting between pro-General Hiftar forces with his Dignity Operation, allied to the House of Representatives elected in June 2014, based in eastern Libyan town of Tobruk and the Islamist loosely allied factions to the General National Congress of Libya Dawn, elected in June 2012 and is based in the capital Tripoli.

 

Mapping IS growth in Libya

 

But why has the world abandoned Libya, some commentators wondered?

Simon Speakman-Cordall, a British freelance journalist based in Tunis and currently writing a book about jihad and democratization in Tunisia, told me that in December of last year that he has been telling his fellow media people in the North America that it was worthwhile focusing on the Libyan turmoil and the unfolding events of Dignity and Libya Dawn operations that led to a dead end in the resolution of the conflict and the rise of IS, which he credits its first inception in 2012 after the assassination of US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. They gave him a cold shoulder about it.

Speakman-Cordall who attempted a few times to go to Libya to research IS but each time his visa was declined by the Libyan embassy in Tunis, he resigned himself to do his work from Tunisia. The town of Derna is the focal point of his upcoming book, where he is tracking the journey of Tunisian jihadists (radical Islamist fighters).

Indeed, the eastern Libyan town has become notorious for being the North African hub for Al Qaeda fighters since the fall of the Gadadfi regime and having become historically the safe haven for Libyan returnees Afghan war against the Soviet, Iraq war against the Americans and more recently the Syrian war against Bashar Al Assad regime in 2012. Joined by foreign fighters particularly Tunisians, Algerians, Moroccans, Egyptians, Palestinians to name but a few of the other nationalities, the town made bayaa (paid allegiance) to the self-proclaimed Caliph Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi earlier this year.

The BBC has published a map of Libya describing the different locations and spots of different actors on the ground from IS to Ansar Sharia and other loosely-affiliated Islamist groups, with the most extremist with radical, “jihadist” outlook to the least extremist outfits made up of former Libyan rebels who fought the war against Gaddafi and those with tribal allegiances, the most important of which is Libya Dawn.

According to Nomane Ben Otman a counter-terrorism expert with the Quilliam Foundation, the first world-renowned center that researches extremism and radical Islam based in London, IS represents a serious threat to Libya and it is trying to establish an emirate in eastern Libya, he told CNN in November 2014.

 

This goes counter to a narrative in Libya that IS is a phenomenon that is being much exaggerated that it almost gives credit to it. Some doubted the veracity of the Sirte video, claiming that the town is IS-free, in contrast to the show of force by IS in the streets when their militants paraded last week in defiance, managed to occupy the local radio, took the university and placed snipers on the rooftops, reported a local form Sirte on his Twitter on 19 February 2015.

However, Libya Dawn claimed on a visit to Sirte last week that they found out Gaddafi loyalists among IS, which could give credit to the neighboring city of Misrata, 200 miles east of Tripoli that its militias that are instrumental in the Libya Dawn coalition that they are fighting Gaddafi loyalists and protecting the Libyan revolution from counter-revolutionary movements. Is IS part of this movement that could threaten the very existence of Libya’s third largest city? A plausible answer may lie in the recent Derna-based IS brigade, Al Battar’s warning to Misrata about interfering in its operations and that “his head would end up on the entrance of the city,” Al Battar Media Foundation, IS brigade media office stated a few days ago. Misratan militias that have been struggling to wrest control over Sirte since 2011 competing for control with Ansar Sharia and other radical Islamist groups more or less linked to Al Qaeda.

This power struggle as evidenced in the rivalry between different militias across Libya is symptomatic of the continuous fragmentation of the Libyan state. The country has become a failed state since the summer 2014 where factionalism as well as political and social void exacerbated the already deteriorating security, political and economic situation of the country. The entry of IS in this anarchic setting is a red indicator that unless national dialogue between warring factions of Libya Dawn-backed GNC and Operation-Dignity backed House of Representatives in UN-brokered peace and reconciliation talks in Geneva and Ghadames since January of this year, the conflict may linger and even deteriorate if some of those factions shift allegiances and decide to join IS as part of the power struggle logic.

 

Response to IS execution in Libya and aftermath of operations

 

When General Abdul Fattah Al-Sissi responded to the execution of the 21 Egyptian Copts by carrying out strikes in Derna in reprisal, jet fighters bombed IS training facilities and ammunition stores, a statement broadcast on Egyptian TV on 16 February 2015. The strikes caused the death of scores of civilians, including women and children.

The Derna attack outraged many Libyans, especially anti-Hiftar and the GNC as well as Derna Shura Council condemned the airstrikes and promised a harsh response against Egypt.

On 20 February 2015, a car bomb killed around 40 people, all civilians in the town of Guba, between Beida and Derna. IS claimed responsibility for the attack in reprisal to the Derna attack and that suicide bombers were involved in the attack. The GNC and House of Representatives firmly condemned the Guba massacre, along with the UN and the international community. It prompted some dialogue delegates in the UN-brokered dialogue process boycotted the round of talks which was due to start on 22 February in Morocco, but have been suspended in protest at the massacre. Seething anger in Libya grew and many Libyans especially in the east accused the UN, the UK and the US of favoring Libya Dawn and the Muslim Brotherhood, accusations that have been refuted by the US and the UK. Frustration with UN security council’s refusal to lift embargo on weapons to Libya after a plea presented by House of Representatives, along with Egypt pulling back its demand for an international intervention in Libya on 18 February isolated Libya and pushed back to UNSMIL plan for a united national government in Libya and which is supported by Tunisia, Algeria and Italy.

The US , France and the UK followed suit urging for the unity government and hoping for a diplomatic solution to the conflict, hoping that the “urgency of IS will bring factions together”.

The situation in the south of Libya is as dire as in the north of the country where locals have been struggling with different militia groups vying for control of illegal activities such as weapon smuggling and human trafficking since the war in Mali in 2012 and the return of Tuareg Islamist militants to Libya. The situation that has been made worse with neighboring Chad and Niger mobilizing forces to fight Boko Haram, while warning about the spillover of Jihadi groups in Libya’s into their territories. In December 2014, during a forum on security in the Sahel region in Senegalese capital Dakar, Chadian president Idris Déby-Itno warned about the Libyan quagmire by calling NATO to finish the job of securing Libya from terrorist organizations that are linked to Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and the Sahel region.

 

Meanwhile, the security situation in Libyan remains fragile in particular for Egyptians, who were urged by Libya Dawn to leave the country following Egyptian strikes on Derna last week. Thousands have already crossed the Tunisian and Egyptian border crossing with Libya. In addition to the difficult economic situation, people continue to suffer sever power and water cuts, as well as delay in payment for government employees of their salaries. With oil production dipping to a severe low level with 200,000 barrels a day in late 2014, the country, whose economy depends at 95% on oil production may be facing bankruptcy unless it managed to end the political turmoil and restore security in the country to ensure stability and return of investors and international companies to get the country back on track.

 

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Lettre à mon peuple: “je ne peux être qu’Africaine à la fin, car on n’est jamais mieux servi que par soi-même”

What some Tunisians wish Tunisia is located

Ce que certains Tunisiens imagineraient la Tunisie (photo crédit: Afifa Ltifi, Facebook).

Bismillah Arrahman Arrahim

Au Nom d’Allah le plus Clément, le plus Miséricordieux,

Mon cher peuple,

A mes compatriotes “blancs” (selon certaines normes, l’Arabe est plus blanc qu’un Noir mais plus noir qu’un Occidental) qui ne cessent de me dire de cesser d’être si complexée et sensible par ces cons de racistes et qu’après tout je ne suis pas “si noire” que ça pour m’offusquer du mot “oussif(a)”.

A certains de mes compatriotes très politiquement corrects (lire hypocrites) qui font de la lutte contre la racisme leur fonds de commerce, à des fins politiques et idéologiques, la version tunisienne (et par extension arabe) des disingenuous white liberals aux USA (les libéraux blancs fourbes/fallacieux). A mes compatriotes noirs qui, comme moi, en ont marre de se taire chaque fois qu’on les attaque et qu’on leur dit:”ne vous en faites pas c’est des débiles”.

A mes compatriotes qui se sentent pas du tout concernés par le racisme/discrimination anti-noir en Tunisie car ils/elles croient naïvement que ceci est une tare propre aux Israéliens et Occidentaux. Non, cette lutte anti-raciste en Tunisie est bel et bien une cause tunisienne tout comme la lutte contre l’Islamophobie, l’anti-Sémitisme et toute autre forme de discrimination. Je m’adresse à mon peuple, en français et pas dans ma langue nationale, qui est l’arabe, pas par élitisme culturel, mais plutôt par souci “trans-culturel” vis-à-vis de nos hôtes et frères et soeurs Sub-Sahariens de l’Afrique francophone qui ont fait demeure sur la terre  d’Ifriquia (actuelle Tunisie), qui a donné son nom à ce continent, l’Afrique avec ses diverses cultures, langues, ethnies qui n’ont rien à envier aux autres continents et qui subit la stigmatisation, manipulation et carnage quotidiens des médias, grandes institutions financières, onusiennes, humanitaires etc.

Assez, c’est assez, beaucoup de Noirs Tunisiens ont  trop fermé la gueule pour beaucoup de raisons: par dépit, peur, lâcheté aussi mais surtout impuissance devant le silence de la majorité soi-disant non raciste, qui rappelons-le non seulement elle est complice mais joue dangereusement le jeu de la lutte contre la racisme en usant la carte de la cause palestinienne pour accuser leurs compatriotes noirs d’être de mèche avec l’ennemi Sioniste. On ne cessait de me le rappeler ici en Tunisie et en Occident que je ne peux être qu’Africaine à la fin et qu’on est jamais mieux servi que par soi-même. Ca explique pourquoi beaucoup de Noirs tunisiens aiment bien rester entre eux. Solidarité raciale peut être.

En tant que Musulmane Tunisienne (Africaine de “race” et de culture), je ne peux que témoigner mon énième dégout, désespoir et honte de ce racisme quasi-quotidien, qui est devenu le lot de toute personne dont la pigmentation est un peu trop foncé à la norme tunisienne, un racisme doux, sans nom et surtout décomplexé car il se nourrit de nos préjugés les plus primaires, arbitraires et déshumanisants. Valons-nous mieux que les fachos de Pegida en Allemagne ou autres skinheads Russes, KKK avec un tel palmarès d’injures raciales les plus abjectes, une troublante créativité de révisionnisme historique (sic. l’esclavagisme, l’Ebola, et j’en passe de perles rares témoignant d’un vrai malaise social et schizophrénie collective mêlée au foot, l’opium de peuple par excellence)? Il a fallu des petites étincelles que tout part en cacahuètes dans ce petit pays, paisible, “pacifiste”, “champion du Printemps Arabe”: la Tunisie et que ces démons de racisme décomplexé soit mis à nu, que le Tunisien (blanc) moyen (lire, naïf, pas du tout raciste,  mais ne s’offusque pas de montrer son mépris à l’égard de certains citoyens Sub-Sahariens “car eux aussi ils sont racistes contre nous”, se défend t-il) découvre la face cachée, moche de son autre, son alter égo de l’Arabe le plus tolérant, le plus sympatique, le plus démocrate parmi ces voisins. Ce n’est pas toujours lui/elle le raciste, les Libyen sont pires; la preuve ils traitent très mal les travailleurs Sub-Sahariens là-bas.

Ce Tunisien qui chereche toujours les poux dans les cheveux de ces voisins (Européens et Maghrébins) et souvent oublient que ses propres poux ont déjà fait ravage dans les cheveux des autres. Ce mélange dangereux d’essentialisation de l’autre, de déni de soi et de l’autre, de caricature, de simplisme, et de régurgitation de clichés raciales de l’époque esclavagiste, post-esclavagiste, coloniale et post-coloniale, qui viennent s’ajouter à son répertoire de stéréotypes orientalistes (lire Edward Said l’Orientalisme) héritées de la récente période décoloniale ont crée une bombe à retardement qui se déflagare à chaque fois un évènement national tel que la finale de la CAN se transforme tristement en une bataille politique où certains se déchainent pour aller casser un “Noir”.

Oui, hier à la finale de la coupe d’Afrique des Nations CAN 2015 qui a opposé la Guinée Equatoriale à la Tunisie, certains sont parti à la chasse des Noirs, comme au bon vieux temps dans le Deep South américain (le profond sud des USA), certains blancs (des vrais ceux-là pas les “fake” (faux)  Arabes blancs, communément traités de “sand-niggers” (les nègres du sable) par certains Rednecks du Texas, Géorgie et autres anciens états esclavagistes américains), les membres du Ku Klux Klan cherchaient les Noirs américains, anciens évadés ou affranchis pour les lyncher après. En 2007, le monde s’est réveillé à une reconstitution macabre de scènes de lynchage avec la tristement célèbre Jena 6 dans un lycée/collège de l’état américain de la Louisiane.

Loin de moi de crier au loup ou de tomber dans l’alarmisme qu’un tel crime puisse avoir lieu en Tunisie un jour, mais les graines de la haine raciale, se justifiant de clichés stéréotypes anodins pour certains étaient bien là hier soir à Bourj Louzir, au gouvernorat de l’Arania (Tunis) quand une foule en colère de Tunisiens “blancs” se sont pris à des citoyens sub-Sahariens (Congolais, Sénegalais, Guinéens) dans leus résidences, ont volé un ordintaeur portable à une des victimes, et ont passé à tabac un autre; malgré le geste courageux de Tunisiens qui se sont interposés pour éviter un tel incident devienne une tragédie.

Mes délires scripturaux ont commencé dès 2002 où j’ai écrit sur l’Islam en Europe pour une demande de travail dans un magazine culturel tunisien où j’ai fini par traduire des articles jet set des voyages du rédacteur en chef du magazine. Vient après le Facebook, en 2007 quand j’ai découvert cet espace de liberté d’écrire assez insolite au temps d’une dictature qui muselait toute personne qui osait s’exprimer librement sur tout et n’importe quoi, même du racisme anti-noir, qui était aussi un tabou politique qui pouvait mener au banissement de quiconque ose la dénoncer. Lassée par le Facebook, je voulais décrocher, mais je ne pouvais pas à cause de mon travail de journaliste web avec des médias internautionaux en langue anglaise, la décision de voir ce qui se passait sur Twitter en 2009 n’a été que très brève.

De retour sur le Facebook, la revolution tunisienne en 2011 a offert cet espace encore une fois pour parler de ce mal qu’est le racisme anti-noir en Tunisie. C’est au cours d’une émission sur Radio Tunisie Chaîne Internationale (RTCI), animée par Faiza Mejri que je me suis exprimé en direct sur le sujet, quand les langues en Tunisie commencaient à se délier. Mon travail avec Tunisia Live m’a permis d’aborder la question noire en Tunisie mais à un public non-francophone qui venait à peine de découvrir cette société tunisienne très complexe.

J’avais la rage quand j’écrivais sur le racisme en Tunisie, mais avec l’âge et probablement la maturité, cette rage était plus posée, moins militante et plus conciliante, que ça troublait certains de mes ami(e)s tunisiens noirs qui m’ont connu très militante, un peu à l’image d’Angela Davis, l’icône des Black Panthers américain. Comment aborder ce sujet sans que je tombe dans la provocation, la colère et pire les accusations de Sionisme (ma plus grande hantise que j’en suis devenu paranoaïque à un moment donné?).

Tel était mon dilemmen éternel. Je n’étais pas assez forte pour affronter les personnes qui me harcelaient, m’accusaient de tous les maux de la terre et me menacaient sur mon Facebook en ayant abordé le sujet. Twitter était moins risqué puisque il était plus “élitiste” à mes yeux, du fait que les Tiwtteriens n’étaient pas les citoyens lambdas que ceux du Facebook. Mon blog était l’autre espace pour m’exprimer mais je n’avais rien écrit depuis l’été dernier car j’étais en panne d’inspiration.

Et puis vient le match Tunisie-Guinée Equatoriale pour ouvrir les blessures du passé douloureux, des insultes abjectes dont moi et ma petite famille ici à Tunis ont été victimes. Chaque fois dans les années 90, une équipe tunisienne jouait en finale contre une autre équipe africaine, la peur de sortir de la maison était plus liée aux colibets racistes que je devrais faire face; si par malheur la Tunisie perde. Je ne savais pas me défendre car trop docile, gentille, certes trop bavarde, mais pas du tout violente, contrairement à ma mère et ma soeur qui se défoulaient volontiers verbalement sur tous ceux qui osaient leur proférer le moindre terme raciste.

Venant d’une famille à ma mère où on ne se taisait pas quand on l’attaquait verbalement, je me sentais paralysée de pouvoir me défendre. Et pourtant en lisant Malcom X, je regrettais parfois que j’aurais dû rétorquer quand on m’attaquais car au lieu de se victimiser, pleurnicher (comme je l’ai presque toujours fait), la rage grandissait chez moi, qui allait presque me consumer avec le temps. Les arts martiaux m’ont aidé à canaliser cette rage, mais aussi à être toujours prête pour répondre à toute attaque. Pouvoir se défendre par tous les moyens nécessaires tel est devenu mon nouvel adage. Jamais provoquer, ni initier une violence mais savoir répondre même verbalement aux attaques.

Bon nombre d’étudiants sub-Sahariens ont été attaqué dans le passé en Tunisie et ce n’est pas un phénomène nouveau. Certes, ceci reste circonscrit à certains endroits dans la capitale tunisienne, mais des faits rarrissimes qui ne devraient pas être amplifiés. Mais les banaliser en simples agressions physiques de la part de petits cons me rendait encore plus enragée car on ne veut plus voir chez certains de mes compatriotes “blancs” tunisiens que ce n’est pas quelque chose d’anodin, mais bel et bien une réaction violente comme en voit en Europe ou Etats Unis où les victimes sont souvent soit musulmane, noire ou autres personnes de type basané (tels que les sud Asiatiques).

Allons-nous continuer à regarder de tels actes comme un feu de paille sans nommer les choses par leurs noms?

Il ne s’agit pas de mettre l’huile sur le feu pour montrer que le Tunisien est raciste, mais de faire un moratoire sur la culture du déni de ce mal qu’est le racisme anti-noir (qui est au fait un racisme réactionnaire) et affronter ce sujet avec beaucoup de courage, stoicisme et intelligence.

Grâce à des associations tunisiennes comme M’nemty, on a pu ouvrir le débat depuis 2013 sur le sujet très épineux de la discrimination anti-noire en Tunisie, que les médias tunisiens s’y intéressent enfin et qu’aussi certains politiciens ont décidé d’écouter cette frange silencieuse, meurtie de la population tunisienne par la peur et l’indifférence de leurs concitoyens “blancs”.

Il ne s’agit pas pour moi, en tout cas, de faire le procès d’intention des Tunisiens “blancs” mais de crever cet abscès qui risque de se transformer en gangrène très douloureuse et de déverser cette rage, sans pour autant qu’elle détruise les liens sociaux entre Tunisiens. Un exercice psychologique où parler de ce qui fait mal chez chaque Noir Tunisien aidera à la guérison et à rétablir des relations plus harmonieuses et moins conflictuelles.

Vidéo intéressante d’une Germano-Ghanéenne, Mo Asumang, qui a décidé d’aller faire la connaissance de son “ennemi” (qui en ces termes, ils ne connaissent pas leurs ennemis).

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التونسي بين صناعة الحرب و السلام

The Arab Roméo Dallaire: late Hédi Annabi  hedi annabi BBC pic

Head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) (1943-2010)
كم نسمع عن العدد الكبير من التونسيين من داعش و أنصار الشريعة و القاعدة حول العالم و تقلدهم مناصب هامة في هذه الأنظمة المتشددة شباب أرسل أغلبهم لمحرقة ما يسمى بالجهاد شباب مغرر به على الأرجح من الشباب المهمش للأحياء الشعبية في العاصمة التونسية و كذلك المناطق التونسية المهمشة الذي أصبح يرى في ليبيا و سوريا و العراق و أفغانستان دار الجهاد ضد الاستعمار و الكفار و غيرها من الأسباب التي لا يعرفها إلا هم. شباب كان في الماضي بحلم بحرقة للامبيدوزا و لما استعصت الهجرة وجد البعض منهم فكرة الفكر الجهادي مغرية لا فائدة في الخوض في حيثيات هذه المأساة.
في النصف الثاني من الكرة الأرضية القليل سمع عن تونس و بالأخص في جزيرة هايتي هذا البلد الكاريبي الجميل أول بلد من مستعمرات فرنسا من الأفارقة السود يؤسس لجمهورية بقيادة القائد توسان لوفارتور (Toussaint L’Ouverture) في 1804 و أصبحت هايتي مثالا للمناصرين للحركات الانعتاقية في العالم و كانت من ساند استقلال ليبيا من إيطاليا في 1951. لكن نظام الدكتاتوريات للرؤساء دوفاليي و أريستيد مزقت البلاد كما مزقت العديد من بلدان أمريكا اللاتينية و الكاريبي من أواسط القرن 20 إلى بداية القرن 21 و شهدت البلاد حربا أهلية تلتها كوارث طبيعية من زلازل وفيضانات و في خضم هذه المآسي عينت الأمم المتحدة مبعوث سلام و استقرار لهايتي لديه باع كبير في الدبلوماسية العالمية و فض النزاعات في إفريقيا و آسيا لعدة سنوات ,التونسي الهادي العنابي الذي ساعد في إعادة إعمار هايتي مثلما قامت قوات حفظ السلام التونسية بقيادة أممية في كمبوديا و بلدان البحيرات الكبرى الإفريقية: الكونغو, الكونغو الديموقراطية. بوروندي و رواندا في التسعينات. العنابي يمثل شريحة عامة من التونسيين الذين كرسوا حياتهم للآخرين بعيدا عن الانتماءات السياسية أو العقائدية أو القبلية أو الاثنية للشعوب التي تطوعوا لمساعدتها و استجابو لنداء الواجب الانساني في رواندا و الكوت ديفوار و السودان و فلسطين و كمبوديا و البوسنة و الهرسك و غيرها من مناطق النزاع كأطباء و قوات جيش و عاملين لدى الأمم المتحدة أو منظمات عالمية غير حكومية. كم أتمنى ذكرى هذا الرجل العظيم تنسينا صورة ذلك المرتزقة التونسي في العراق يهين جيش دولة عربية عظيمة كالعراق و جملته السمجة انفخ شلبوق (مستوحاة من معجم بوليس بن علي القذر) صورة جعلتني أتقزز من أن هذا الشخص شوّه صورة تونس الجميلة أمام العالم

hedi annabi UN

coffin hedi annabi

 

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“The World Wonders Who Is This Nation of Heavy Drinkers”: Demystifying Teetotalism in Libya

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Libyan dry white wine from Misrata (photo credit: Guilhem Roger)

“God invented Guinness so the Irish would not rule the world” Irish saying

 

Dhat Al Imad Towers: Symbol of Prohibition

“There is so much social hypocrisy here that Libyans do not drink,” Barbara, a European young woman working in Tripoli complained to me. “Yet, every Thursday evening, I see a lot of young Libyans drinking heavily. They do not know how to drink here. There is no social drinking . It is not like in Tunisia,” she explained the pattern of drinking among people in post-Gaddafi Libya. Barbara is among many foreigners, particularly Westerners, who have noticed the social stigma around alcohol drinking in this conservative Muslim North African nation.

Unlike its Western neighbor, Tunisia, where alcohol has been legalized since the French “protectorate” (the term used by French colonial system denoting the colonial period of Tunisia between 1881 and 1956), alcohol is legally banned in Libya. Post-independence Tunisian president Habib Bourguiba continued with his predecessors’ laws and regulated the use of alcohol drinks in Tunisian public spaces such as bars, restaurants and hotels. With the ousting of former Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the advent of a moderate Islamist-led government of Ennahda in Tunisia, many liberal Tunisians who declare themselves as open drinkers feared that once Islamists are in power, they will curtail individual freedoms, of which  that of drinking and selling alcohol in public.

When former Tunisian PM Hamadi Jebali went to Washington DC in May 2011 -a few months before the first democratic elections in Tunisian history in October 2011- he stated that if Ennahdha comes to power, it will not seek to close brothels (prostitution is legal in Tunisia since the 1940s under French colonialism) and bars. He referred to Prophet Mohamed abstaining from destroying statues that people of Mecca used to worship and advised his companions to be patient with the “non-believers” until they accepted Islam and the existence of one God with no compulsion. The same applies to alcohol, we do not want to see a bar in every house,” he insisted. This statement may have shocked many in Tunisia, even if some doubted his deep intentions as “a soft way” to start banning alcohol gradually.

The situation is totally different in Libya. It has often been in fact, ever since Gaddafi took power in 1969. He banned brothels and bars that were “tolerated” under the reign of Libyan king Driss I. The Tripoli area near Jamaa Borgheba is still infamous for being the red-light district of Tripoli till today, albeit illegally and discreetly but people attest to the presence of Tunisian and Moroccan prostitutes there. What about alcohol then? Libyan law makes it illegal to sell it in public places including hotels and restaurants. Yet, long before King Driss’ reign in Libya, some Libyans had often engaged in the brewing of a unique Libyan alcoholic drink called “bokha“. It is brewed from mainly figs and dates and methanol is added to the mixture.

The drink is famous with Libyan Jews in the Diaspora but also Tunisian Jews (many of whom have Libyan origins and might have brought it to Tunisia when they migrated to the country in the 19th and 20th centuries after successive famines in Libya).

In London, where there is an important Jewish community of North African descent, during religious ceremonies kosher bukha, made in Tunisia or in France by North African Jews,  is served in houses for Shabos (Shabbat) and other religious events. The drink contains  between 40 and 50 % of alcohol. During the annual pilgrimage to Al Ghriba Synagogue in the Tunisian island of Djerba in April, Jews from all over the world, often of North African descent, converge to get the blessings of the holy place. Its custodian, Perez Trabelsi, gives one shot of bukha to each visitor. With around 3000 visitors in average before the Tunisian Revolution, Perez would perform the ritual of drinking after each visitor coming to him to have a shot of bukha. “By the end of the ritual, he would be too drunk to walk on his feet,” Bochra, a Tunisian businesswoman who often attended the Ghriba procession told me.

But, if such a brew is strong enough to make someone unable to stand on one’s feet after a few hours, can it become lethal to the extent that it causes the death of over 70 people in a few days? Many in Libya wondered after the tragic death of 101 young Libyans, who have been admitted to Tripoli hospitals on March 10, 2013 for alcohol poisoning. The number of patients reached 1066 that some dangerous cases such as kidney failure, blindness etc were recorded. Some more serious cases were transferred to Tunisia. Poisoning through bokha has become the headline in Libyan social networks and media outlets in Libya and abroad. People were horrified at the quick rising number of deaths. “The strange thing is that there were girls too,” some exclaimed on Facebook. In a conservative society, the news of Muslim females drinking alcohol comes as as a big shock, a shameful act that few were able to comprehend.

A Libyan friend of mine who studied and lived in the US admitted he sometimes drinks but socially “like in the West,” he insisted . ” You know that Gaddafi ordered the building of the five towers of Dhat Al Imad -commonly known by some in Libya as shisha maglouba (Libyan Arabic for an upside down bottle)- to symbolize prohibition in Libyan society, according to Gaddafi” he explained to me. The five towers are cylindrical, bottle-shaped skyscrapers. His under-statement hints to a deep malaise among many young Libyans who question the use of such a prohibition in a deeply conservative Muslim society. What is banned, forbidden is often the most desired, some would say. The myth of Libyans being teetotalers has been challenged recently. Many Libyans who would often flock to Tunisia to go to its trendy bars in Sousse, Hammamet, Djerba and Tunis is reminiscent of young Saudis who would travel to the small island-state of Bahrain during weekends to get drunk.

” The World Wonders Who is This Nation of Heavy Drinkers”

 

“There is this social hypocrisy that Libyans do not drink because they are devout Muslims,” noted Barbara. Some Libyans on Facebook sarcastically made comments about the status of Libya being the country of one million Quran reciters and now the world discovering they are a nation of drinkers. “The world wonders who is this nation of heavy drinkers ,” Min Libya (a pseudonym), a young Libyan, who describes himself as a  “low-key” liberal and often drinks”, wrote on his Facebook status one day after the tragedy of alcohol poisoning deaths in Tripoli. “Why can’t they just regulate drinking alcohol and end this hypocrisy that no one drinks in Libya? That way, young Libyans can drink sensibly like everyone else,” he insisted. The sarcastic note hides a deep resentment and distress of many Libyans by the tragedy.

The death of over a hundred young people and the blindness of several more through alcohol poisoning has left many Libyans in shock, puzzled and distressed but not indifferent at the extent of the tragedy and its impact on post-Gaddafi Libyan society. Self-denial and “social hypocrisy” have let room to heated debates on social networks and media outlets about alcohol consumption unearthing an old and persistent taboo in Libyan society: that of open alcohol consumption. Some empathized with the victims and lashed out at the hypocrisy behind the issue of alcohol drinking in Libya; others made strong statements in which they blasted the victims’ loose behavior for leading an immoral life of “binge drinking” (the mysterious deaths of these youths made some think that they were heavily drunk, hence their sudden deaths).

Min Libya called on his Facebook page for the regulation of alcohol consumption as well as the industry of alcohol brewing. This bold statement may be shared by other fellow Libyans, yet it shows the development in mentality regarding some social taboos in Libyan society and culture. This lifted up the lid off social stigmatization of alcohol consumption and denial that more and more Libyans drink including young women. It came as a shock for many that among the victims were young women, yet it showed a deep malaise in Libyan society that this scourge of alcohol consumption is related to a number of factors, including post-conflict/war stress and traumas.

Those who sympathized with the victims justified the act of drinking alcohol by the (side)-effects of the nine-month conflict in 2011 on the morale of many youths, some of whom resorted to drinking to numb the psychological disorder and stress caused by war atrocities. I met a young Libyan from Misrata in Tunis last year who was jailed in the infamous Abu Salim jail in Tripoli during the Libyan Revolution, was tortured and later released. He would drink so heavily when he comes to Tunisia that he would fall and vomit in the street, a French friend of his told me.

The culprit who sold the poisonous alcohol in Tripoli was caught in the western Tripoli area of Ghergharesh by a Tripoli brigade fighting criminal activities. He has been identified as Elisa by the captors. Yet little is known about the number of people who were involved in the business of brewing bukha. However, six were arrested connected to the case of alcohol poisoning. This underground industry has always flourished under Gaddafi. A young Salafist living in Benghazi confessed to me once that there are farms east of Benghazi where people brew bokha, while authorities are turning a blind eye to it.

It is no surprise that the number of Libyans consuming alcohol increased since the death of Gaddafi but there has been no study or a quantitative/qualitative research of alcohol consumption in Libya. Almost a year ago, the Economist published a report entitled “Tequila Umma: Alcohol Consumption in the Muslim World in which it drew a chart on alcohol consumption in eight countries from Pakistan, to Lebanon and Iran. It described Libya as a flourishing black market for spirits. It listed Libyans consuming an aggregate of 0.11 liter of alcohol per person annually between 2003 and 2005. The chart described Libyan alcohol consumers as being “the Gaddafis before their fall”. How true are the Economist‘ findings is dependent on more accurate quantitative and qualitative research/findings into alcohol consumption in Libya to gauge the extent of the phenomenon in post-Gaddafi Libyan society.

The Irish Connection and the Libyan Diaspora in Ireland

 

Ireland, the Emerald Island, is considered as the most conservative country in Europe, religion-wise. The Catholic nation has often bred this image of being a staunch Catholic country where religion plays an important role in Irish society and culture. Yet, this nation of 6 million people is also famous for being one of the “merriest” nations when it comes to drinking alcohol. Guinness, the Irish booze par excellence, is consumed without moderation in Irish pubs in Ireland and around the world. The Irish Diaspora in the UK and the US have brought with them traditions from their island, including the St Patrick’s celebrated annually in March. The Great Famine of the mid-1840s forced around one million Irish men, women and children off their island and sought a better life in the New World. Until the 1970s, Ireland remained an under-developed country compared to its European counterparts. It witnessed an economic boom after joining the EU in the 1970s and became the Celtic Tiger thanks to its rapid economic growth between 1995 and 2008.

Ireland bears an uncanny historical, social and cultural resemblance with Libya: both had witnessed famines in almost the same period of time (for Libya in the 1760s, 1790s and later in the 1940s), a lot of Irish and Libyan population left their homelands to neighboring countries, Britain and Tunisia respectively (where living standards were better than in their homelands), both came under the rule of “ruthless” colonial powers: Italy and the UK. Other traits include the clan/tribe system, where it faded in Ireland and subsisted in Libya and bagpipes music, to cite but a few of the common cultural traits.

Irish cuisine still has potato-based recipes, which was the staple food of most Irish families since the 16th century and until the Great Famine with the failure in potato crop. This unsophisticated cuisine although it developed recently thanks to the cosmopolitanism of its cuisine and to the openness to foreign cuisines is rooted in Irish history where many Irish had to survive eating basic food, where potato is the main ingredient. In Libya, food made of barley in particular became the basic staple food for Libyans. Bazeen is an example of a Libyan dish that historically, Libyans during successive famine periods, used to consume quite often to survive when there was nothing else to eat  during years of draught.

There is a considerable Libyan diaspora in Ireland, the most famous of an Irish-Libyan is former Libyan Minister of Health Fatima Al Hamroush. During Gaddafi-era, a Libyan school was set up in Dublin and many IRA members supported Gaddafi and continued during the Libyan Revolution. Many Libyans chose to settle un Ireland, particularly students. Some married Irish women there and had Irish-born Libyan children. The island has become a hospitable place to live in for immigrants since the 1990s, including Libyans. Where Guinness is Ireland’s national brew, bokha is Libya’s “unofficial” national alcoholic drink. Bukha is also consumed by Tunisian Jews during religious events and weddings.

Yet, Libyans never claim to be alcohol consumers as would the Irish often pride themselves in being among the biggest consumers of Whiskey and Guinness in the world. Even during Prohibition years and the rise of temperance movements in 19th century America, bootlegged whiskey continued to flood US markets, competing with Irish whiskey. Where it is common that you may be stopped by a friendly Dubliner in the streets of Dublin and amicably invites you for a pint of Guinness in the local pub (it happened to me and a Tunisian female friend in 2006 but we had to politely decline his offer), a foreigner is even more surprised by hospitable Libyans insisting on inviting you to their house and making you eat couscous or taste the good old bazeen.

When Iranian president, Ahmadinejad declared in 2008 that there are no gays in Iran, his statement was met with mockery over his denial of the existence of an important homosexual community in Iran. It will be a long time before officials in Libya admit to the fact that alcohol consumption in Libya is a reality and no longer a social taboo that needs to be hidden from the outside world.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Categories: Gaddafi, Ireland, Libya, Libyan Revolution, Tunisia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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