Libya Tribune

By Safa Alharathy

Amr Al-Nami is a well-educated scholar with an open mind who graduated from Cambridge in 1971 and returned to his country as a freedom activist and a strong defender of Islamic culture.

Nevertheless, he quickly had to pay the cost of his choices by experiencing various forms of abuse, moving between prisons and exile.

Even when he chose to give up his academic career and live a quiet life herding a flock of sheep back in his small mountain village, he was trailed by Qaddafi’s security agents and went missing since 1986 up to this day.

In the town of Nalut in Nafousa Mountains, he grew up in a conservative family keen on knowledge and adheres to religious tradition.

After completing his university education in Libya, he began preparing for the postgraduate studies.

He first went to Egypt, but at that stage, dramatic events took place in 1965 between President Nassar and the Muslim Brotherhood which led to a mass arrest of its members.

Because he was considered close to the Brotherhood’s intellectual orientation, Amr fled Egypt for fear of arrest and detention and changed course to another country, choosing Britain as an alternative destination.

In the UK, Amr spent nearly five years at the University of Cambridge to which he obtained his doctorate degree in Arab Islamic studies, but this experience also offered him large-scale culture and gave him the opportunity to meet scholars, intellectuals, and pioneers of various Islamic movements of different races, languages, and continents.

Studying overseas did not keep Omar from following the news from his homeland of political and cultural interactions.  He even had contributed to writing critical articles in the Alem newspaper. The 1960s can be described as the golden age of the Libyan press and freedom of expression.

In the summer of 1971 Al-Nami graduated from Cambridge University. He was ready to return to his native Libya looking forward to occupying a high status at the Libyan University.

Instead, he was greeted by police stations and interrogation rooms and from there to the prison.

His first arrest didn’t last long as it came as a warning. He resumed his normal life and began his career as a professor at Benghazi University before being transferred to Tripoli.

In 1973 Libya witnessed extensive arrests by the former regime under the slogans “Cultural Revolution”, “The Administrative Revolution and “Forming Parties is betrayal”! But the aim behind was to ground the one-man rule in the country and to get rid of any intellect or leadership not compliant with this view. Amr was among hundreds of intellectuals and students who were arbitrarily detained.

After his release, he was forced to leave the country, possibly as a condition for his liberty. He went into exile in the United States and then was deported again to Japan. From his exile, he wrote poetry about his country, his childhood, and his memories, he was not of the kind to live away from his land. Within a year He was back in his home land.

He decided to walk away from university teaching and shift to sheep grazing in his home town Nalut, away from big cities and the anarchy of politics. For his surprise prison doors were open before him once again, but this time, Al-Nami didn’t have the chance to tell the rest of his story. His family had heard no news of him since 1986 and his fate is still unknown.

During the years of detention1973-1974, he wrote dozens of poems and wrote his only book “The phenomenon of hypocrisy within the balance of Islam”.

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