The Berber Reawakening in Libya

(New York Review of Books)- Nicolas Pelham - North Africa's indigenous Berbers - or Imazighen as they prefer to call themselves - depict Gaddafi's rule as four decades of unremitting Arabization. To erase their ethnicity, they say, Gaddafi labeled them mountain Arabs, replaced their historic place-names with Arab ones, and suppressed the Ibadi school of Islam that many Imazighen follow on account of its more egalitarian bent. Unlike Sunnis, the mainstream Ibadi school opens up leadership of the Muslim community to all ethnic groups, not only the Quraish, the Prophet Muhammad's Arab tribe. Amazigh leaders estimate - somewhat optimistically - that they make up 25% of Libya's six million people.

2012-06-14 00:00:00

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