• Indigenous peoples in Libya

    Indigenous peoples in Libya

    The Tuareg and the Toubou live in the south of the country; they are generally nomadic, moving from one place to another with their livestock and living in tents. Libya voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Libya

The Amazigh form the Indigenous population of Libya. They are estimated to number some one million people, or more than 16% of the country’s total population. Libya voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous Peoples in Libya 

They live in various areas of Libya in the north, east and south of the country albeit without any geographical continuity. To the west of Tripoli, on the Mediterranean coast, they live in the town of At-Wilul (Zwara) and in the Adrar Infussen (Nefoussa) mountains, on the border with Tunisia; in the southeast, on the border with Egypt, they live in the oases of Awjla, Jalu and Jakhra; in the south, the Fezzan region is traditionally Kel-Tamasheq (Tuareg) territory, including the areas of Murzuq, Sebha, Ubari, Ghat and Ghadamès. Libya’s Kel-Tamasheq are naturally linked to other Kel-Tamasheq communities living across the borders with Niger and Algeria. Tripoli is also home to a significant Amazigh community. 

In addition to Arab and Amazigh communities, there is an ethnic minority in Libya known as the “Toubou”, comprising some 50,000 individuals. They are originally from the Tibesti plateau in Chad and they live along the Libya/Chad border. They live a nomadic way of life and practise pastoralism across an area that extends from northern Niger to the Sudan.

Challenges of the Amazigh 

During the time of Gaddafi (1969-2011), Libya was declared an exclusively “Arab and Muslim” country. The 1969 Constitutional Proclamation states in its first article that “Libya is an Arab republic (…), the Libyan people are a part of the Arab nation and its aim is total Arab unity. The country’s name is the Arab Republic of Libya”. Article Two adds that “Islam is the state religion and Arabic its official language”. Government policy since then has always relentlessly persecuted anyone who does not recognise Libya’s “Arab-Islamic identity”.

Following the 2011 “revolution”, a “Provisional Constitutional Council” submitted a draft new Constitution in 2017 that in no way changed the country’s identitary foundations. Article Two still provides that “Libya forms part of the Arab nation” and that “Arabic is the state language”. Article Six notes that “Islam is the state religion and Sharia the source of its law”.

Other discriminatory articles then follow prohibiting a non-Muslim Libyan from standing for election to the Chamber of Representatives (Article 69) or as President of the Republic (Article 101) and stating that justice shall be passed down “in the name of Allah” (Article 189). These articles are clearly aimed at imposing an Islamic republic, to the detriment of the diversity of cultures and beliefs in Libya. Due to Amazigh and Toubou opposition, however, and also because of the war, this draft constitution has not yet been adopted. 

The Indigenous World 2021: Libya

The Amazigh form the Indigenous population of Libya. They are estimated to number some one million people, or more than 16% of the country’s total population.

They live in various areas of Libya in the north, east and south of the country albeit without any geographical continuity. To the west of Tripoli, on the Mediterranean coast, they live in the town of At-Wilul (Zwara) and in the Adrar Infussen (Nefoussa) mountains, on the border with Tunisia; in the south-east, on the border with Egypt, they live in the oases of Awjla, Jalu and Jakhra; in the south, the Fezzan region is traditionally Kel-Tamasheq (Tuareg) territory, including the areas of Murzuq, Sebha, Ubari, Ghat and Ghadamès. Libya’s Kel-Tamasheq are naturally linked to other Kel-Tamasheq communities living across the borders with Niger and Algeria. Tripoli is also home to a significant Amazigh community.

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Indigenous World 2019: Libya

Arabs of different origins (Egyptian, Sudanese, Tunisian, Palestinian, Bedouin, Maltese, etc.) make up the majority of the Libyan population, accounting for approximately 90%. They are followed by the Imazighen (4.7%), Westerners (1%), Indo-Pakistanis and other Asians (around 1%), Nilo-Saharans (less than 1%) and Filipinos (less than 1%). Most Arabs of Libyan origin are of mixed descent, i.e. Arab/Imazighen.

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Indigenous World 2020: Libya

The Amazigh form the Indigenous population of Libya. They are estimated to number some one million people, or more than 16% of the country’s total population.

They live in various areas of Libya in the north, east and south of the country albeit without any geographical continuity. To the west of Tripoli, on the Mediterranean coast, they live in the town of At-Wilul (Zwara) and in the Adrar Infussen (Nefoussa) mountains, on the border with Tunisia; in the southeast, on the border with Egypt, they live in the oases of Awjla, Jalu and Jakhra; in the south, the Fezzan region is traditionally Kel-Tamasheq (Tuareg) territory, including the areas of Murzuq, Sebha, Ubari, Ghat and Ghadamès. Libya’s Kel-Tamasheq are naturally linked to other Kel-Tamasheq communities living across the borders with Niger and Algeria. Tripoli is also home to a significant Amazigh community.

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Indigenous World

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