From Libya: An Amazigh Story of Struggle and Identity (2)

Tuesday 30 July 201903:39 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية

I became the Editor in Chief of the first Amazigh magazine ever published in Libya which we called "Armat". It was a culture magazine funded by the state written in the Tifinagh alphabet. After we published  the fourth issue, half the editorial team (which consisted of four people) resigned because of my insistence on adding other languages ​​to the magazine. So we became a team of two and a half people and it became the first magazine in the history of modern Libya published in four languages, three local: Amazigh, Arabic, and Tabawiya in addition to English.

Because I do not own a gun, and of course I do not have bullets, I decided to remain silent before deciding to migrate (aided by chance) since I am a person who only owns words.

I remember that when I distributed copies of the fourth issue, in a town where the majority spoke Amazigh, the owner of the only library in the city told me that the first three volumes had not been purchased by anyone, so I took them back to Tripoli in my own car as I turned my back to the tri-colored Berber flags flapping in the wind, the flags bearing the Amazigh letter Zay in their midst, hung over the city, hanging them seemed to be the most the city's inhabitants could manage in their false struggle for their endangered language.

The magazine had a run of ten issues then stopped after I fled the hateful swamp of Libya and no one was interested in trying to replicate the experiment of the magazine. Everyone was too busy filling their pockets with used bullet cartridges, blood sodden banknotes and forgetting their accursed language, the language of stones and tribal winds.

Amazigh has become a cheap commodity, a trait of intolerance, racism and naive ethnic differentiation, especially when it has sought to become a hollow political movement rather than a cultural one through the encouraging producing content in the language
In Libya, the opposition imposed its opinion on everyone, we became a country where violence was the only way to prove or refute an argument, something I experienced directly when I was kidnapped by a militia from the midst of a crowd in Tripoli on my birthday

A war had been declared and Amazigh became another revolutionary commodity traded by profiteers. Instead of the local councils in the Amazigh-speaking cities attempting to promote the use of the language and transforming it into a part of daily life by enriching the culture scene whether through literature, theatre or television with Amazigh content and encouraging printing, publishing, and writing in the language they just formed a political body whose only function is to bear the name of the Berbers called Supreme Council of Amazigh of Libya. I questioned the council in an article about this establishment and its mission: Was it a political party, a Civil society organisation or a football team? Who did they consider Amazigh? Did they mean Amazigh speakers solely? People who were genetically Amazigh? Residents of Amazigh-speaking cities except for Tripoli? Were they only from the Ibadi sect? Are the members of this assembly elected or appointed? Were they appointed based on height? Their response to my questions was to threaten to kill me and burn my house- They called me 10 times in a single day or as a city councillor from the city of Mount Nafusa told me in a coincidental encounter after I received these threats " We do not respond to words with words, we use bullets"

This council did not attempt to or even think of establishing a television channel in Amazigh or printing a 10-page children's magazine in the same language, despite the millions of pounds being squandered among the profiteers of the revolution.

And since I don't own a gun and of course do not have bullets I decided to remain silent before I resolved to emigrate (aided by chance) because I am a person who does not own anything save my words and well-intentioned thoughts in addition to my poems that nobody has considered publishing. Even as a reckless teenager, ten years ago in the middle of Tripoli, I recited my poems in the Amazigh language, and I published them under a pseudonym which was known by Libyan intelligence services back then, in a Moroccan magazine concerned with Amazigh issues called "Taoyza", and I designed more than ten digital books to teach children Amazigh writing which I had preserved on the website "Taolet" before an ideological disagreement with the editor led him to delete them all from the site, and we are talking about a country where there was not one book printed in Amazigh, not to mention there are only 400 books printed in Arabic per year. All this happened before the Amazigh clowns of the February revolution began to fight with windmills, insulting the Committee of the enactment of the new Libyan Constitution, which they decided to boycott, that was the only decision they came to during the five years after the creation of their pathetic committee other than leeching & profiteering from the revolution.

Amazigh has become a cheap commodity, a trait of intolerance, racism and naïve ethnic differentiation, especially when it has sought to become a hollow political movement rather than a cultural one through the encouraging producing content in the language.

The withdrawal of influential Amazigh speakers from the nascent and fragile political movement in post-revolutionary Libya, which divided Libyans into tribes rather than bringing them together as citizens as well as the fighting of proxy wars by militias of political Islam which was a repetition of the same scenarios of the coups against democracy in Tunisia, Turkey, Sudan, Palestine and Egypt was a grave mistake which stemmed from baseless fears (in my opinion at the time)

Amazigh turned into a battle of fists, tongues and flying bullets.

My opinion may be wrong or right but what is worrisome, repellent and ironic all at the same time is that after the fall of the regime, the opposition (who turned out to be nothing but tradesmen in the end) imposed its opinion on everyone, we became a country where violence was the only way to prove or refute an argument. And this is something I experienced directly when I was kidnapped by an armed militia from the midst of a crowd in the heart of Tripoli on my birthday. I was accused of expressing an opinion about the violence of the militias. I was released after extensive torture which lasted for a whole day after the intervention of another militia which was as violent as the first. This militia intervened out of fear of the reputation of the tribe and our race after permission was given to discipline me that night. It is something I am grateful for as this was solely my fate. I have a friend who remained in solitary confinement in one of the prisons of “Freedom of February” revolution because of his opinion, the colour of his skin and simply because he did not belong to an armed tribe.

The Amazigh have become an exploited commodity, a trait of intolerance, racism and naive racial differentiation, especially when it has sought to become a hollow political movement rather than a cultural project by encouraging production in the language even by using the millions of the profiteers revolution In order to establish and consolidate the concepts of citizenship and democracy instead it turned into a battle with fists and tongues and flying bullets about who came first, in a society where the median age does not exceed seventy-five years according to reports of the World Health Organization, Instead of everyone trying to live out their limited years in peace, everyone has been preoccupied with igniting wars and opening the doors to a futile debate by trying to measure the age of everyone's predecessors with a yardstick. and by rallying voices with flying bullets about who is entitled to more natural rights than the other.

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