“When I first arrived, I covered my hair,” she says pointing to her shock of brown curls. I decided that if I am going to live and work here, I have to be more me.”Arebi is not alone in trying to make sense of her new life and navigate between the conformity demanded by her Libyan family and her sense of self, developed while she lived in the U. The ouster of Muammar Gaddafi last year triggered the return of thousands of Libyan exiles.Many had been raised in Libya and fled as adults, resigned to never return.With them have come children and spouses, some born in Libya, most born abroad.But as they’ve returned, many of these exiles—especially the women—have become alarmed by a surge of Salafism across the country.They dress more sharply, with tighter-fitting clothes and often without a headscarf; they also seem more self-assured.But that confidence often masks doubt as they try to adapt, to reconcile present with past. As in much of the rest of the Muslim world, it often involves clandestine meetings and underground raves—all the while risking raids by police.You can spot the grown-up children of Libyan exiles quickly enough—especially the girls.They laugh a little louder than their peers do in public.
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And I have been warned that I laugh too loud in public. As Salafism has risen, some have tried to become content with staying at home with their husbands, with the changes they’ve seen come over the men whom they fell in love with in places like London, Paris, and Berlin.“I thought I might be able to help here with my skills in photography and film.But I wanted also to connect with my heritage to find a sense of belonging.”Connecting isn’t easy, however. They are ordinary people and have neighbors who gossip, and I don’t want to embarrass them.”Change is a two-way street.Before last year, Naziha Arebi hardly knew her Libyan family.
The 28-year-old filmmaker was born in the genteel English seaside town of Hastings to a Libyan father and British mother.
You may have your heart set on befriending girls from Arab countries and want to enjoy the warmth of their company.