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Libya: One for All — and All for Love, Baby

It seems the revolution in Libya has done more than topple a brutal and corrupt dictator. In autumn, a young rebel’s heart turns to romance and the sounds of Barry White can be heard wafting through Tripoli.

JANZOUR, Libya – When it comes to love, Muammar al-Qaddafi’s Libya was unlucky for unmarried 33-year-old truck driver Ahmed Nori Faqiar. His looks would have benefited if his parents could ever have sprung for a dentist. Lack of means forced him to live unhappily at his childhood home well into adulthood. Marriage, a home of his own, kids — all are dreams that the wiry Libyan had long ago steeled himself to stop hoping for.

“Before, I was not even daring to look at girls as wife material, because I knew I could not afford” to get married, say Faqiar now.

These days, though, Faqiar wears the mismatched camouflage of Libya’s rebels and a dashing bandana on his head, pirate-style. He carries a gun. He is a veteran of battles for Libyans’ freedom from Qaddafi’s regime — and it’s the women who are talking to him.

“Girls around the area come up to you and say, ‘Thank you! You made us proud, you made us happy,’” Faqiar told me one night recently. He spoke on the sidelines of a camel and couscous feast that the people in this Tripoli suburb threw for several thousand young rebels, after slaughtering 10 camels.

From a specially raised dais, speakers praised the young rebel fighters late into the evening. Hundreds of excited young women and girls in head scarves mingled near rifle-toting young men, a novelty in this conservative country that was overwhelming to members of both genders in the crowd that night. “It’s like a wedding!” Faqiar exclaimed, shaking his head in surprise…

Nearby, young women — a group of cousins and neighbors, clustered together, in long skirts and shirts and head coverings — said the same, and laughed about taking their pick of a husband from among the rebels when the war was done.

Sometimes a rifle is just a rifle. And sometimes it’s not.

Comments

  1. says

    What really made me laugh about this is that I had a friend in college who was Libyan. In fact, his father was one of Gaddafi’s best friends and was an ambassador. AJ was a great guy, really smart and funny. He was followed constantly by the FBI because of his family connections but he could not have cared less about Libyan politics. He could spot the agents easily and would send them drinks and wave at them, laughing at how bored they must be at having to watch him all the time. And AJ had one real interest: American women. The last time I saw him was about 10 years ago, long after we’d lost contact, when I ran into him at a club that was essentially a disco. Not the kind of place I would usually go, but a big group I was part of had a party there and I ran into AJ. He could have come straight out of Saturday Night Live that night, complete with the silk shirt opened to reveal copious amounts of chest hair.

  2. Aquaria says

    . And AJ had one real interest: American women. The last time I saw him was about 10 years ago, long after we’d lost contact, when I ran into him at a club that was essentially a disco. Not the kind of place I would usually go, but a big group I was part of had a party there and I ran into AJ. He could have come straight out of Saturday Night Live that night, complete with the silk shirt opened to reveal copious amounts of chest hair.

    I know that type of guy myself. The Libyans were kinda wild, but they had nothing on the Saudis and the Iranians.

    The town I lived in for most of high school had two small colleges, and at least 10% of the student population was Iranian. They had tons of money and they were W I L D. Wherever they went, you were bound to find an abundance of flashy sports cars, booze, drugs, bare flesh (one of them liked to ride around town in his Porsche–naked) and multi-day parties with very loud music. I know all this because one of them rented the cabin next door to the cabin we rented out at the local lake. My parents ended up getting their money back, because we didn’t get one night of quiet the whole week we were there. I’m not sure if the guy had a party every night, or if the party never ended. I just remember “San Francisco” by the Village People playing right outside my window at about 160 db every night.

  3. Ben P says

    I know that type of guy myself. The Libyans were kinda wild, but they had nothing on the Saudis and the Iranians.

    Oddly enough I can vouch for this, although it may be a distinction without a difference.

    When I was in law school I knew a trio of Saudi guys that were at this particular university studying engineering. They came from a pretty privileged background and one of their parents had purchased a rather large house (by student standards at least) for the three of them to live in. It was party central for a while.

    We did have some pretty detailed conversations to the extent that “what happens in America stays in America, then you go home, get married, have kids, and work in the family business” type situation.

  4. lofgren says

    This might be an interesting opportunity for somebody to study how revolution affects social hierarchies in apolitical means, especially the role of women in a country where they disenfranchised.

    Even if Faqiar doesn’t remain active in the newly empowered revolutionary faction, he may end up marrying above his class, or at the very least he will form familial bonds with in-laws he otherwise would not have. Tracing his family line and station in fifty or seventy-five years could be fascinating.

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