Recently Mohamed and I were out and about in town running errands .Some thing happened that at the time I didn't think it was a big deal.Since this is the new and improved Libya, and we are free to voice our opinions with out fear of reprisals from the government , I would like to discuss this with you to see what you think.
We were in our car approaching a check point.There were many cars ahead of us but the line was moving quickly since the cars were being waved through the check point by the young man on duty.When my turn came I flashed him a smile and a peace sign , Moe smiled as well . We expected a nod or a smile back from the young man, as so often happens these days.We were signaled to stop which was fine . The young man came to the car and smiled at me . He asked me to say Allah Alkhbar ( God Is Great, in Arabic) .I told him of course I would say God is Great. I shouted out at the top of my lungs Allah Alkhbar, then I was allowed to drive through the check point. We all had a laugh as I drove away.I was looking in my review mirror as I drove down the street.I noticed the guy continued to wave through all the cars behind me , not stopping them as he had me.Later we drove through the check point on the opposite side of the road. No one asked me any questions as I came through the check point, but they did smile back as I flashed them the peace sign.
Tonight as I was washing the dishes I started thinking about this and that, because let's face it, washing dishes is a mindless chore,.My mind wandered here and there.One of the things that passed through my mind as I washed the dishes was the experience at the check point with the young man .I think what triggered my thought was Moe was watching one of the many new Libyan channels on TV . Some one on the talk show he was watching was continuously shouting out Allah Alkhbar every 2 minutes or so .One thought lead to another , and before I knew it , there I was in my mind back at the check point shouting out Allah Alkhbar.
This is ok , as I have been know to shout out Allah Alkhbar for no reason at all . The spirit moves me , so to say.But I remembered that out of all the cars before or after me , I was the only one that was stopped. I was the only one that was asked to shout out Allah Alkhbar .
Now why was that, I wondered? Was it because Moe and I smiled at him and none of the other people had acknowledged him , let alone smiled?Did he take that as a opening to joke around with some one that seemed friendly ?Did he do it because I was obviously a foreigner ? I don't wear a head scarf or the Hijab as so many other western women do here in Libya.I am Muslim but I don't cover.But Mohamed was in the car with me and he is Libyan and obviously a Muslim .
I do look " foreign" with my blond hair showing . Was that why he did it ? To remind me that this was an Islamic country?I don't know what he was thinking when he asked me to shout out Allah Alkhbar.But what if .... I was , oh say , a ambassador ,or a volunteer doctor here to help the many wondered people , or any one of the many foreign workers that are still here in Libya working , the majority of whom are Christian .How would one of them had felt if they had been demanded to shout out Allah Alkhbar ? Would they have understood that this has become the rallying battle cry of this revolution? Would they have understood that they were not necessarily being singled out because they were foreigners?
Maybe he just felt enthusiastic that day and wanted to share his enthusiasm with some one, and I was the chosen person .He might have just wanted to see what I would say or do ? Who knows ? But maybe in the future it would be more appropriate by those that man the check points, to just accept the peace sign from those that flash it and not demand an Allah Alkhbar from people that don't voluntary shout it out ?Does any one see my point ? I do know that this is an Islamic country, but we do have many non Muslims that work and live here that might feel intimidated by this " mandatory " Allah Alkhbar .