By Afra Aksoy
Two tribes in Libya’s southwestern, Berber-speaking oasis town of Ubari -- who were until recently bitter enemies -- are using the occasion of the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday to express the spirit of reconciliation and coexistence.
“Tribal interests should not take priority over national interests,” Sheikh Ahmad Ammar, a local imam, declared in an Eid sermon delivered in the Ubari’s central Tolerance Square.
“Radical tribalism must become a thing of the past,” Ammar exhorted his listeners, calling for coexistence among the region’s various tribes and ethnicities.
In late 2014, Ubari became the scene of fierce conflict between Tuareg and Tebu tribesmen indigenous to the area.
The conflict, which continued for about a year and a half, left more than 300 people dead from both sides and forced many local families to flee the area.
In November of last year, however, representatives of the two tribes signed a truce agreement in Qatari capital Doha that eventually ended the conflict.
Now, in a show of reconciliation, local authorities in Ubari are holding Eid prayers in “shared areas” of the town, in which worshippers from both tribes are participating.
“This is intended to promote tolerance and a culture of cooperation and coexistence,” Ammar explained.
“The only way to achieve regional stability is to promote a culture of tolerance between brothers,” he said.
The Tuareg live in the deserts of Libya, Algeria, Niger and Mali. They are a Berber people who largely adhere to a nomadic, pastoralist lifestyle.
The Tebu, for their part, are a Nilotic people concentrated mainly in southern Libya, Niger and Chad.
*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from Ankara