Libya is striving for the pure society  :   
 Curbs Imposed by Qaddafi, but Western Ways Linger. 
 The New York Times.    05/08/1973.  Página: 14. Páginas: 1. Párrafos: 23. 


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

sunflower seeds.

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.


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