Are the Libyans facing up to the fact that reinterpreting current Islamic practice is a precursor to the impending diversification and development of their economy, or will they perpetuate the hypocrisy in the pursuance of redundant and hollow vice issues?

By Cousin von Erich, Libya

The expression ‘being robbed blind’ wasn’t coined by Libyans. Nevertheless, Libyans are probably the ones living the full extent of the meaning as we speak. Their cleptocratic ruler, Mister G; aka Ghadafi, left them raped, ruined and stripped of all revenues from an abundantly rich country’s natural resources. One look at the dysfunctional, stinking, polluted zest pool that is Tripoli testifies to his mad dog policies.

The tried and resilient Libyans are facing a tabula rasa, a full scaled reconstruction of an entire country. The urgent need of infrastructure in all sectors of society is overwhelming… daunting, gargantuan… the draft of a democratic constitution, establishing the rule of law, public administration, legal framework, physical planning, the fundamental constructs of a civil society, plain basic civil rights… health, education… “As Haneen, a teacher in her twenties explains: “I don’t even know what it means to have rights…”

You have the feeling that the Libyan people are emerging from a stupor… staggering… waking up to the stark realities… It’s going to take a lot of getting used to… taking charge… which is probably the big wake up call for Libyans – not just going home after the revolution – of not merely replacing one dictator with another. Used to reducing politics to game theory, a question of calculated risks, incentives and ulterior motives… another scam for strictly personal gains. Cynicism is widespread – talking to many Libyans, the idea of having a say in politics is foreign and viewed with scepticism.

After forty years of dictatorship, any population would find it hard to understand the workings of a democracy, let alone have faith in it. A state of waiting around for things to happen remains, and the joyous exultation from the July elections seem long gone – although the newly elected government under Ali Zeidan does seem committed to democracy. The certain passive mindset that evolved over the years with Ghadafi appears to have amalgamated with tentative doubts on what to do with their newly gained freedom – a mixed atmosphere of disappointment and defeatist spirit.

As of now, the Libyans have won a battle but by far the war. It is going to take steely resolve and fierce drive to facilitate and include the Libyans to engage and respond in the political process. More than two thirds of the population is under 35, so this age group is definitely to be reckoned with. Unemployment rates are as high as 30% and is hitting hard among young and poorly educated Libyans. For those holding a PhD. the academic level is commonly compared to that of a high school diploma in Europe. (Nationmaster.com, Libya. US Government, Central Intelligence Agency.)

As above, Libya, Tripoli, 2012, during the July elections.

The boredom… the boredom…

In many ways, it is the minds of Libya’s youth that gives you a reflective perspective on what is happening in the country. You feel exactly as they do – you are bored stiff. Only I seriously doubt if they would ever dream of assigning the guilt to the real culprit; Muslim gender culture in general.  It brings the iconic line of Kurtz in the motion picture Apocalypse now, to mind: ‘The horror… the horror.´ Only replace it with: The boredom… the boredom…

Having tasted the Libyan excellent cuisine and drinking coffee sixty times a day, just to have an excuse to go out at least, it starts to get on your nerves… unless praying or sleeping is your way of getting your rocks off. Why would the Libyans and especially Libyan youth who make up more than two thirds of the population feel any differently..? And correctly so, you see them hanging out on street corners… they are all over the place… in their cars with windows sanded by thick weed vapours… I know… I have been hanging out with them… they are my friends.

At first, I thought it was a meeting point to go somewhere else, then, I was obviously curious to meet the women. But, my mistake – this was the treat – this is as good as it gets. It felt like going back to when I was twelve or thirteen still not having my own place, only, at least then there were girls to talk to.It makes you think… the difference is that these guys are in their late twenties, still living with their parents and still not getting any. The only thing that goes through the head of these full powered testosterone pumping guys is leaving the country. Especially if they don’t yet want to, or are not capable of affording the hugely expensive marriages that often runs in the hundred thousand dollars in Libya. They want to go abroad… just to get some fun at least… check out the women… going to concerts… events… anything – let alone what goes on in the head of the Libyan women.

I believe it is safe to say that an entire generation must be jerking off from morning till dawn unless Muslim men are created any differently from the rest of the male population in the world. It’s either that or getting it on with each other in some good old homo action – take your pick. You will find the same pattern of sexual behaviour in any prison.

Even animals do that when deprived of the company of the opposite sex. What are they supposed to do – what do you expect? As a foreigner I feel exactly the same. My right arm has arguably grown more muscular and toned after my arrival in Libya. About the gay thing though, I don’t know if I’m quite there yet, but after a year in Libya I will probably be ready to jump a mule, and lately, it does feel as if that male intern at the office gets better looking by the hour. It is duly noted that I have been hit on twice by males in two weeks.

The phenomenon was lately reflected in a burlesque incident at Ain Zara, a suburb of Tripoli, late Thursday November 22, where a pressing arrest of twelve men was made. The daredevil operation was carried out by one of Libya’s many quasi rogue militia groups that have gradually evolved into police like units under the supervision of either The Ministry of Interior, or The Ministry of Defense. Having spotted women’s clothing the brigade understandably suspected that a depraved mix of men and women had gathered.

But alas, an even lewder crime was unfolding. Having gained access to the premises, a man wearing a woman’s clothing and a last season wig was discovered. Following a week in custody and a good bashing by the righteous brigade, the twelve men in question, according to Libya Herald now appear to have been released. Whether released means transferred to the Ministry of Justice for further investigation and prosecution, or released without further legal processing is unclear.

IMAG0132The literal drowning in shit on all levels somehow remains the objective descriptive of Islam and Muslim countries – here Tripoli 2012.

The power game between the brigades and government continues. Anyway, the thing has gone almost viral in Libya and is documented with footage from the arrest on the Nawassi Brigade facebook. From the same interview it follows that a member of the Nawassi brigade itself was invited to the party! Some of them might rightly have been gay – but some might just have been straight gays who were bored stiff – like the rest of us. Cross dress entertainment remains la piece de resistance in any stationed military camp, prisons or muslim society. The quaint incident perpetuates the deeply rooted hypocrisy in current Islamic practice, maybe more so a set of strange religious and cultural synergies in Libyan society.

Segregating the sexes remains the unparalleled weapon in the war against having fun. For any Moroccan… for any European it goes without saying… how can you possibly have fun without the presence of the opposite sex – unless you are gay of course? In Libya, foreigners have sadly learned to decline to invitations because they fail to see the point in attending another male-male oddity. When going to a dinner party the wife has to call her husband to know whether the guest next to him is pleased with her cooking because she can’t be in the same room… what is wrong with these people?

If Libya is committed not to develop its tourism potential – well then they are doing bang up job – because nobody is ever going to want to visit a tomb of gloom boredom and insane restriction. The segregation is a driving factor why most Muslim countries have developed entire parallel community of homosexuals, since this is the only forum that allows human non marital interaction. So besides housing innately homosexuals – which is a topic in itself – Libyan society has come to actually encourage straights to engage in homosexuality because they are dying for any action at all. Is this the idea of Islam?

The only foreigner I have known to be happy with the state of affairs in Libya is homosexual, and he is crazy about Libya. It’s common knowledge, preventing people from a normal sex life produces by far more perverted results of twisted sexual behavior than the one that was initially penalized. Preventing heterosexuals from having hetero sex produces and encourages gay behavior. You will find the exact same sexual behavior in the Catholic Church famous for its countless cases of child abuse among their priests. It’s either that or spanking the monkey.

The only constant is change…

Pervasive waves of political, economic, technological and sociological change have washed western society in the years that followed Second World War. Reverberations from the 68 revolution brought about great change e.g. in suggesting novel constructs of living together – mostly for the worse, but anyhow.

Tracing change, the explosive development and achievements in western society further back, furthermore, it highlights Christian culture’s ability to embrace change – to constantly adapt to its present societal context.In oversimplified terms, a mix of societal structures in which democracy played a pivotal part, have facilitated the liberation of the individual’s potential and thus contributing more productively to society – for the good and the bad. Change was never welcomed by Muslim society.

It seems fair to suggest that there is indeed a close tie between current Islam practice, its tribal fabrics – and the fact that Muslim society suffers from the inability to evolve. Religion is not a static concept. It changes and interprets differently over time and filters through political contexts. Although Islam has been known to have difficulty in embracing change, variation is seen in the way Islam is practiced and accentuated throughout the Islamic countries stretching from the success stories in darling Morocco to salafists and dark-ages-mad-men in Afghanistan and Pakistani regions.

Muslim society is currently under massive pressure by both western and eastern cultures that have allowed greater individual freedom and thus prospering. China loosened its state controlled economy and is now and benefitting from having released their huge potential. Unless Islamic current practice changes or is prepared to play another role of different significance, it will collapse. The recurring picture is that whenever Muslim society is faced with progress and economic development conflict immediately tends to erupt. A look at Saudi Arabia restricting women from obtaining driving licenses, amply reaffirms the pattern. In contrast, in war torn or third world countries with economic stalemate, a conservative Islam is doing dandy – it’s growing…

A most tragic, outraging and yet epitomizing scenery met me the other day. I had gone to the seaside on the outskirts of Tripoli. Mountains of waste were piling up – in Tripoli the sea and the shoreline is used as a garbage dump.

On my right, there was a small stretch of sandy beach littered with garbage. In the midst of this glimpse of hell, two women were sitting in the sand seemingly enjoying the view. The women did not seem to pay any attention to the foul stench or the garbage coming up to their knees. What mattered to the two women on the beach was wearing the proscribed burka…

In the case of Libya, this was to illustrate that a static interpretation of Islam works well with an absolutist regime like that of Ghadafi, closed off from the outside world. The segregation of sexes, lack of nightlife, places, concerts, or events to go to merged with an overall anxiety of being watched or scrutinised by the secret police or snitches having something on you. It is my belief that this unholy mixture produced a culture of introspective, private, secretive and an overly cautious character in some respects. For more than forty years Libyans never knew anything else. No one was allowed to leave the country, and no one in their right mind would travel to the country.

 Epitaph 2016

But all that has changed now… hasn’t it?