There is a curious pattern of dangerous behaviour now coming out of the Libyan revolt against the government of Moamar Gaddafi. In this frightening CNN report, rebel soldiers looking to exact revenge on the dying regime have found a perfect victim demographic: black sub-saharan African (in this case Nigerians) who are in the country en route to Spain or Italy for a better life.
There is enough to debate about the presence of Nigerian citizens residing legally or illegally in a war-torn country (and the Nigerian government has a duty to protect them as well, to the best of its ability), but a so-called revolution aimed at liberating a country from tyranny should not turn itself into one – at least not so soon – at the expense of foreigners. The fact that they are targeted for their skin colours – as the report states – makes it even more alarming, and worrisome.
In post-Apatheid South Africa a few years ago, a similar thing happened where foreigners (also mostly Nigerians) became a target of xenophobic behaviour by citizens looking for scapegoats in a poor economy. It didn’t matter that just years before then, most of those other African countries had provided asylum for the freedom fighters running away from the oppressive Apatheid government. A similarly disgusting thing happened right after the Egyptian revolution succeeded, when Gael Ghonim – the acclaimed IT mastermind of the whole movement tweeted this. (At least he didn’t have a gun to someone’s head.)
A pattern has emerged here that should be roundly condemned.