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LUCIS What's New Lecture

National Identity in Post Gaddafi Libya

Thursday 14 February 2019
Free to visit, drinks after
What's New?! Spring Lecture Series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

Politicians promoting national reconciliation in today’s Libya and drafters of a new constitution, have faced major obstacles regarding national identity. While Gaddafi’s regime (1969-2011) promoted Pan-Arabism and Islamism as two pillars of national identity, these two have, since its demise, been contested. The country’s ethnic minorities, Amazigh, Touareg and Tebu, see Pan-Arabism as discriminatory, and demand for their languages the same status as Arabic. Islamists and religious scholars, who have emerged victorious in the 2011 revolution against Gaddafi, question his understanding of Islam, and the legislation based thereon. They, however, differ as to the place that ought to be given to the country’s traditional schools, i.e., Maliki and Ibadi. Some want to attribute them a special status as identifiers of the religious component of Libyan national identity, others argue in favour of Salafist readings. 

Since 2011 Libya’s transitional authorities have tried to solve these disagreements, as manifested in legislation and constitutional drafts. Still, one can wonder whether their efforts have gained any success so far. In an attempt to answer this question, this lecture will focus on recent research executed, in which post-2011 legal development was assessed. It builds on recent desk and field research on the role of law in addressing disagreements over national identity.

About Nienke van Heek

Nienke van Heek is a project researcher at the Van Vollenhoven Institute in the research project The Role of Law in Libya’s National Reconciliation, of which Dr. Suliman Ibrahim is the project leader. She has a background in International Development Studies, Islam and Arabic, and Middle Eastern Studies. Before joining the Van Vollenhoven Institute, she was an intern at Clingendael Academy, after which she worked at the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society (LUCIS).

About Suliman Ibrahim

Dr. Suliman Ibrahim is an Assistant Professor of Private Law at Benghazi University, Libya, and the director of the Centre for Law and Society Studies (CLSS) in Benghazi. He is currently a senior researcher at the Van Vollenhoven Institute where he leads a project on The Role of Law in Libya’s National Reconciliation executed by the VVI and CLSS. Dr. Suliman Ibrahim did a PhD in Law at Lancaster University, United Kingdom, where he graduated in 2008.

Research project The Role of Law in Libya’s National Reconciliation

The lecture builds on recent desk and field research that was carried out as part of the research project The Role of Law in Libya’s National Reconciliation. This research project aims to address major challenges to national reconciliation in Libya, i.e. key issues regarding national identity, national governance, decentralization, security and transitional justice. The project looks at the role of law, both actual and potential, enabling and constraining, with regard to these issues. The researchers employ a socio-legal approach, combining literature review, legal analysis, focus group discussions, and interviews.

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