Libya's women central to its march to progress

Libya's women central to its march to progress
Comment: Armed gangs have murdered women for their attempts to build a better Libya. But they will not stop the march of progress, says Salah Eddine al-Jorashi.
3 min read
How can armed groups fear women so much? [AFP]

Intisar al-Hasairi, a member of the Tanwir social and cultural movement who took part in demonstrations against Libyan militias, was found shot dead in the boot of her car.

Naseeb Miloud Karfana was a journalist. She was found dead in Sabha with her throat cut.

The human rights and political activist Salwa Bughaighis was assassinated in her house in Benghazi. Fariha al-Barkawi, the former MP, was shot dead in her car.

Sara al-Deeb, the rights activist, was riddled with five bullets.

Silenced forever for their ideas

These are the names of Libyan women who were silenced for wanting to have a say on the fate of a country that has entered a darker and more brutal stage than even the 40 years under Muammar Gaddafi.

There are forces in Libya that possess weapons and believe they possess absolute truth, who have granted themselves the right to impose their mandate on society by any means.

These groups do not believe in the right to disagree.

Experience has proven that conservative thought generally tends to consider women as a main target, and conservatives seek to restrict the movement of women and impose responsibilities upon them that usually infringe upon their basic rights.

These people believe that a woman represents a grave danger to morals, Islam, the country, society and individuals, and thus should have her movement restricted and her appearance, speech and body controlled to prevent temptation.

They believe women should be barred from any leadership position to prevent corruption and chaos. And when this conservative thought becomes more extreme, the price women pay becomes higher.

The women who were assassinated in Libya did not commit any crime that would justify their murder and no explanation was given to the general public as to the danger these women posed to those who executed them.

     Conservative thought generally tends to consider women as its main target.

Those women were either activists in various organisations or had decided to take part in initiatives of a political nature to oppose those who have taken over.

Why were they killed in such a cold-blooded manner, and in a way that has no precedent in Islam?

There is a real and despicable intention to prevent Libyan women from taking part in protecting their country from the hell of civil war, and in efforts to build a democratic system that respects minorities and allows the participation of all who believe in the right of Libyans to peacefully and collectively decide their fate.

What danger could be posed by a small number of female voices that demand freedom and the participation of women to ensure that their political, social and economic rights be respected?

Democracy is intrinsically tied to the struggle for women's rights and political participation and cannot be separated. History and the experiences of other nations prove this to be a fact.

Those who lack sight and foresight need to return to the Prophetic legacy and the Quranic message that restored the active and leading role of women in the liberation movement initiated by Islam, by equating between male and female believers in the struggle to build a new nation empowered by a universal message.

This legacy does not differentiate between people based on gender, race or social background.

The violence against Libyan women impedes the historical course that was initiated by Islam, and undoubtedly Libya will lose some of its most brilliant women as martyrs.

However, whenever one of these women is killed, 10 others are born to continue the journey.

This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.