LIBYAIS STRIYING FOR PURE SOC1ETY
Curbs Imposed by Qaddafi, but Western Ways Linger
BENGHAZI, Libya, Aug. 4 (AP)—"The Arab woman places her hand in that of the Arab man to achieve
the historical action of the Arab masses in going from backwardness to progress," proclaims an editorial
on the women´s page in a local newspaper.
That may be so in the abstract, but few young couples are seen strolling hand in hand in this
Mediterranean seaport. It´s the kind of thing the authorities frown upon.
Instead, there are rows of young men sitting forlornly on the seafront or talking politics and eating
The drastic moral strictures of Libya´s young leader, Col. Muammar el Qaddafi, seek to turn this country´s
population into a teetotaling, thrifty, hardworking one, with all Libyans united in a struggle for a better
On the other hand, the country´s huge oil wealth has affect-ed many Libyans, and they evidently would
like to enjoy the material benefits it can buy. The influx of Western goods brings with it the subtle
attractions of Western mores.
Better Lemon for Diplomats
There are no bars here. Colonel Qaddafi banned alcohol in all its forms from the first days of his
revolution in 1969. Early this year, he forbade diplomats their monthly quota.
"Now we serve apricot juice, pineapple juice, soft drinks and Bitter Lemon at our receptions," said on
Western diplomat blandly. "They´re not bad."
Hairdressing salons for women are out. They all had to close recently, under orders from Colonel
But there are still a surprising number of foreign women who go about in the streets almost as they would
at home. The stares they arouse are any-thing but hostile.
Some Libyan girls, more daring than most, appear in public in tight slacks and T-shirts. But they are few
and hurry through the streets. No one wears a veil in the city
Night Clubs Are Gone
Before the revolution, when thousands of foreigners lived here, oil men in from the desert could find
recreation in night clubs and gambling dens. No more.
The night clubs were closed, sometimes personally by a guntoting Colonel Qaddafi; and the gambling
dens have disappeared.
The city´s largest hotel, the plush Gezira Palace, once included a casino with several roulette wheels and
blackjack tables. The tables are now covered with thick cloth. There is an unused row of slot machines.
To reduce foreign influence, Colonel Qaddafi ordered that all public signs be written in Arabic only.
"Those of us who lived here before still managed to get around," said one foreign resident. "Those who
carne later learned by trial and error."
Arabic Usage Stressed
But there is virtually no hostility toward foreigners in the streets. A group of English-speaking visitors
recently took a long, leisurely walk through the bazaar of the old quarter without a single angry glance or
Colonel Qaddafi is determined that Arabic be recognized as an international language. To help bring this
about, he has ordered that personal information in a foreigner´s passport be in Arabic and has refused
entry to some who did not comply.
Libyan newspapers reported proudly the other day that Sweden and Venezuela were the latest countries to
comply with this ruling, bringing the total to 31.
All public announcements In Libya are made in Arabic only. At Tripoli airport recently, two flights were
called, one to London and one to Rome. A young Englishwoman got on the wrong plane and it had to be
called back from the end of the runway to let her off.
Although Colonel Qaddafi is only 31 years old and presumably should find the most receptiveness to his
ideas among Libya´s youth, they seem to resist most.
Bell-Bottoms a Fad
The latest fad in men´s clothing is "unmanly" bell-bottoms—worn with rubber sandals as a concession to
the heat underfoot.
Many young men scorn Colonel Qaddafi´s military haircut and let their hair grow long by Libyan
standards. Wearing bright yellow crash helmets some of them drag-race on the seafront on their new
Consumer goods of every type and variety abound in the stores, including the latest hi-fi sets made in
Japan, shoes made in England and washing machines from the United States.