Racism in Libya

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Libya is a predominantly Arab-Berber and Arabized Berber country with many people of Berber descent identifying as Arabs despite being of Berber heritage, according to DNA tests. However, traditional Berber cultures in Libya have been eroded with time. Due to Gaddafis rise to power, and his justification and arguments that Libya is an Arab country, naturally, his regime suppressed Berber Tuareg minorities of mostly black skin color, giving rise to racial tensions and an assumption that Libya's population ought to be Arab and light skinned, despite historical evidence that Libyan population was a mix of both. The New York Times argues that Libya has a "long history of racist violence."[1] which can be attributed to its recent 500 year turmoil of colonial powers coming and going.

In the 21st century, significant numbers of sub-Saharan Africans came to Libya, primarily to work as unskilled labor. Many of these were rounded up during the Libyan Civil War and accused of being "mercenaries" in the pay of Muammar Gaddafi.[1][2]

According to Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch, the detentions reflect ""a deep-seated racism and anti-African sentiment in Libyan society."[1]

The clashes between Misrata and the black-majority town of Tawergha had some racist overtones, present before the start of the civil war. Rebel slogans like "the brigade for purging slaves, black skin" were scrawled on the road between Misrata and Tawregha.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Libyans Turn Wrath on Dark-Skinned Migrants". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
  2. ^ "Libya's spectacular revolution has been disgraced by racism | Richard Seymour | Comment is free". The Guardian. 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2012-07-31.
  3. ^ "Libya City Torn by Tribal Feud". The Wall street journal.