Source: Peace X Peace
Interview with Amany Mufta Ismail by Anna Therese Day. In late March, 29-year-old Libyan student Eman Al-Obeidy caught the world’s attention when she burst into a Tripoli hotel to inform Western media of her alleged detention, torture, and rape at the hands of Gaddafi’s forces. After a series of further police detentions, heavily censored interviews, and virtual house arrest in Tripoli, it was announced earlier this week that Eman Al-Obeidy has successfully fled Libya with the help of two defecting military officers. Her story has put a face to the many crimes against women and children committed in times of war while also breaking the silence on a strict taboo in Arab culture.
In an interview with Anna Therese Day, 22-year-old Amany Mufta Ismail, a woman activist in rebel-controlled East Libya, describes her reactions to the story of Eman Al-Obeidy as well as her feelings surrounding attacks on Libyan women during this war.
Anna Therese Day: What was your initial reaction when you heard the story of the attacks on Eman Al-Obeidy?
Amany Mufta Ismail: First of all, I want to say that she is so strong because she went there and she said that. It’s so hard for the Arabic woman to say that. It’s not easy. Maybe there are thousands of Eman Al-Obeidy — not thousands, millions of Eman Al-Obeidy in the Arab world — but they never say that because maybe our traditions, our culture, our families, we can’t say that. But she is so strong to go out to all the TVs and saying how “15 men doing blah blah blah to me…”
It was something so hard because she was going to Tripoli to complete her studying, to work there, to help to build the society but she was treated so bad. But she is so strong to say that. I support her. She’s like a logo for us, she’s a Libyan logo for us.
Anna: What was your reaction to the initial claims of Gaddafi’s government that Eman Al-Obeidy was mentally-ill or drunk when she burst into the hotel in Tripoli?
Amany Mufta Ismail: Yes, actually we know about him and we heard about other girls. So when he say that about Eman Al-Obeidy, we know his ways to avoid the truth. It was something that maybe we have background to. Actually when we heard that I was laughing, I was just laughing, “Oh my god she was drunk? Come on!” She is not, because we heard about her and the other girls. But we couldn’t say that because of, as I said, our tradition. But when she go out on the TV and she said that, then we all go out and say “Gaddafi, just go!”
Anna: What are your hopes for Eman Al-Obeidy in light of her escape from Tripoli?
Amany Mufta Ismail: There are other girls in Benghazi that got kidnapped, at Ajdabiya they were kidnapped, at Brega, at Misrata. There’s women and girls, and sometimes children, you know. But she was the courageous one, she was the strong one. She said no to the people who do that, to Gaddafi’s men – she has all the courage to do that.
I just want her to know that we support her. We are all Eman Al-Obeidi, not she, just she, but all of us, even me. I am Eman Al-Obeidi because we are sisters, we are all Libyans, we are all Arab, we are all human.