Bugaighis, a lawyer from a prominent Benghazi family, was among the first to the barricades in Libya’s 2011 Arab spring revolution, and later resigned from the first rebel administration, the National Transitional Council, accusing it of freezing-out female members.
She was identified as perhaps the most charismatic figure in Libya’s women’s movement, supporting a successful campaign to establish minimum quotas for female lawmakers in parliament. She also opposed moves to make the wearing of the hijab compulsory, and her views brought her into conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist extremists.
“The killing seems intended to silence critics and muzzle dissent,” said Hanan Salah of Human Rights Watch. “Her conviction that dialogue is the only way out for Libya is now forever silent.”
This year Bugaighis and her husband left Libya with their three young children after one child was threatened by gunmen. But the couple returned recently, vowing to continue campaigning.
And the gunmen got them. Her husband is still missing.
Hassan Morajea, a student from Tripoli, said the lawyer was respected by men and women alike for her zeal. “Not only did she have something to say, but she knew how to say it, she was able to articulate what we all thought,” said Morajea.
Most recently Bugaighis had been a prominent member of a commission trying to bridge Libya’s growing factional divide. That divide appeared as wide as ever on Thursday, with rival militias deployed on the streets of Tripoli and the supreme court suspending sessions amid fears of violence.
When in doubt, kill all the best people.