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Clans and Communities in Libya

The synagoge of Tripoli
The synagoge of Tripoli

Libya has historically been a tribal society. Unlike other countries in North Africa, tribes are still major players in the political structure. This is not, however, primarily an ethnic issue: there are relatively few Berber speakers. After the 1969 coup especially, Gaddafi crushed all expression of a Berber identity, but since the 2011 revolution, in which Berber communities played a leading role, the use of the Berber language and cultural expression has increased. Up until independence in 1951 and even more so since Gaddafi came to power, the historically important Jewish community has been reduced to almost nothing; its members left for Israel, North America, and Europe.

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