Occasionally there are articles that tell the truths about the Muslim world that you are not supposed to tell. This article, on the joys of the post-Gaddafi Libya, is one of them.
One of my dearest friends in Tripoli was a woman who had lived in Canada for 20 years before eventually returning to Libya. At the time of the revolution, I had known her for more than two years and had come to count on her loyal friendship and to admire her generosity. She was a devout Muslim who faithfully performed her prayers, fasted during Ramadan, paid zakat (tithe), and gave ungrudgingly to beggars when we encountered them in the street. Yet she was not a fundamentalist. She confided to me that she had once told her husband, “I just want to try wine and see what the big deal is.” She tried it, said “What’s the big deal?” and never drank again. She did not follow her faith out of fear or condemn others for their beliefs. With her, I could even raise questions about the existence of God without any anxiety.
A few months before the revolution erupted, I was having dinner with her and some friends, when they began to talk about managing servants. My friend had an Ethiopian maid, and she said that when she hired the girl, she had set out to treat her like a daughter. She provided room and board and took care of all her needs—but after a few weeks, she began to feel like the girl was taking advantage of the situation. After all that had been done for her, she apparently wasn’t working hard enough. To punish her, my charitable, open-minded, enlightened friend locked the maid in a basement room with no light, no food, and no water for three days.
One friend, who lived in Tripoli’s old city, begged me to help her get a visa to the U.S. “I can’t stand it here anymore. The abeed [“slaves” in Arabic] make the place stink.”
Racism. It’s far more prevalent in the east than it is in the west.