Revenge, Racism Cloud Libya’s Future

As Rebels Look North to NATO, Blacks Met With Growing Distrust

If you have a home in Libya’s port city of Misrata and aren’t there right now, you might not have a home to go back to, as rebel in the area say they don’t want the “traitors and collaborators” to come back, and are demanding anyone who wants back into the city prove they weren’t secretly in league with the Gadhafi regime.

Even those few allowed back in face mistrust and sometimes violence from those who stayed, a reflection of the new Libya where suspicion trumps all else.

And in Libya nothing is more suspicious than skin color. It is well documented that several rebel groups have moved overtly against black people, herding whole cities of them into refugee camps then attacking the camps.

Reports of the Gadhafi forces’ use of mercenary fighters from elsewhere in Africa has convinced many in Libya that being black is proof that one was a regime fighter. In reality, of course, many have lived in Libya for generations, and many more were just immigrant workers. This didn’t prevent them from being arrested, or killed, by rebel troops.

What this means for the future of Libya remains to be seen, but the current environment seems to be a prime one for scapegoating, though the rebel PM promises to investigate reports of persecuting foreigners. Still, with factions inside the rebel movement already arming up for another civil war this could mean major violence.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.