Monthly Archives: October 2016

Documentary: Libya’s Revolutionary Musicians

A new documentaryStronger Than Bullets by filmmaker Matthew Millan, about music during the Libyan revolution is now available through Al-Jazeera English:

Amidst the bloody revolution to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi, a defiant music scene emerged from the dust of war. After 42 years of non-Arabic music being banned, Benghazi suddenly resounded with a melodic fury, with hip-hop, heavy metal, rock, blues, and even country music echoing around the city.

“Stronger than Bullets” introduces the musicians who are free to play at last, and follows them as they stand shoulder-to-shoulder, guitar to rifle, alongside rebel fighters.

After months of war, Gaddafi’s death paved the way for the musicians to celebrate their victory with a triumphant music festival. Yet when the tyrant fell, shadowy elements emerged to halt the festival at the 11th hour, as victory descended into conflict and chaos.

Soon the situation came full circle back to the days of the tyrant, and the musicians had to scatter to the four winds. Will the music scene thrive once again, or will it remain mired in post-revolutionary blues?

Annotated recordings in the Tripoli dialect | تسجيلات مشروحة في لهجة طرابلس العربية

Several recorded texts in the Arabic dialect of Tripoli are available freely online as part of the database COCOON (“collection of digital oral corpora” in English), originally from CorpAfroAs (“Corpus of Afro-Asiatic Languages”), a France-based project for the description of languages of the Afro-Asiatic language family.


The recordings were made by Christophe Pereira, a specialist in Libyan Arabic, whose linguistic annotations and translations are also available.

These recordings are useful for linguists who want an idea of how Tripoli Arabic sounds or need a few transcriptions for comparative research, as well as for those teaching courses about Arabic dialects who could benefit from some material from Libya (of which there is not enough!).

Documentary: La Pionnières

La Pionnières (“The Pioneers”) is a documentary depicting Libya’s first democratic elections in 2012, the first after four decades of dictatorship, through the eyes of two women. It is produced by Vanessa Rousselot and presented by La Huit. I have yet to see the film, and would welcome comments and thoughts from those who have. The description is as follows:

“In July 2012, Libyans experienced their first national democratic elections after 42 years spent under the dictatorship of Qaddafi, 6 months of civil war, and more than 20,000 deaths. For the first time, women could participate in elections. They 625 to try their luck. “Pionnières” depicts a country at a historic moment through the struggle of two women. During the revolution, Myriam El-Tayab, in resistance against her own family, was beaten while pregnant. She wanted to build a country in which both supporters of the regime and revolutionaries could live together in peace. Layla El-Sounoussi traverses 400km of the desert region of Mourzouk, in the south-west of Libya, to go speak to men as they leave mosques in order to teach them what democracy is all about and why women should participate in political life. This rare document captures the short period when Libya seemed headed along the path of democracy before sinking again into chaos.”

“En juillet 2012, les Libyens vivent leurs premières élections démocratiques nationales, après 42 ans passés sous la dictature de Kadhafi, 6 mois de guerre civile et plus de 20 000 morts. Pour la première fois, les femmes peuvent se présenter aux élections. Elles sont 625 à tenter leur chance. « Pionnières » donne à voir un pays dans un moment historique, à travers le combat de deux femmes. Pendant la révolution, Myriam El-Tayab, s’est battue, enceinte, en première ligne de front contre sa propre famille. Elle veut construire un pays dans lequel supporters de l’ancien régime et révolutionnaires vivraient ensemble, en paix. Layla El-Sounoussi arpente les 400km de désert de la région de Mourzouk, au sud-est de la Libye, et va parler aux hommes à la sortie des Mosquées pour leur dire en quoi consiste la démocratie et pourquoi les femmes doivent participer à la vie politique. Un document rare faisant état de cette courte période où la Libye semblait emprunter le chemin de la démocratie. Avant que le pays ne sombre dans le chaos”