Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

The freedom of expression, but also his

The Revolutionary Committee is the
foundation of the fear, betrayal, and conflicts that are present in the novel. According
to their website, the Revolutionary Committee Movement called for, “Developing
and promoting the concept of human rights which include not only man’s rights
of freedom of expression, but also his rights for his authority without
mandate, his means of living without any exploitation” (Rcmlibya). However,
their supposed main purpose was to institute direct democracy and “establish a
Jamahiriya society, the authority of the people” (Rcmlibya). Nevertheless, the
RCM abandoned their promises and headed towards the direction of a political
system that rules by fear and strict supervision, and the approach of an
authoritarian government. The falsehood of the statements by the Revolutionary
Committee is expressed in the novel through the setting and the events that
Suleiman and his family experience. When describing the setting of Tripoli,
Suleiman specifically emphasizes that the sun is “everywhere”, “flooding”, and
“swelling with heat”, suggesting the comparison between the sun and the power
of the dictator, Muammir Gaddafi and his RCM. Accordingly, the disturbance caused
by the overwhelmingly powerful sun is made clear in the depiction that “Every
person, animal and ant went in desperate search for shade” (Matar-1). The
severity of the conflict is further suggested as Suleiman goes to the extent of
even portraying the eagerness of a tiny creature like an ant to escape the sun
which symbolizes the RCM. Finally, although Suleiman speaks of “those
occasional gray patches of mercy carved into the white of everything”, he
expressly highlights that “true mercy only arrived at night” (1). Suleiman
installs an evil personality upon the sun with his diction as he proclaims the
sun of having no “true mercy”.  He hints
that the citizens of Libya were only able to attain liberty when the
Revolutionary Committee was asleep.

The people of Libya were not able
to hide from the Revolutionary Committee. The irony is that the RCM themselves
quote that they “undertake the responsibility of preaching the authority of the
people and opposing all forms and means of exploitation and monopoly”
(Rcmlibya). The RCM stressed that they wanted to promote the “right of everyone
to enjoy freedom”. Rather than keeping their word, the government became an
instrument at the hands of the dictator to manipulate people. Unfortunately, for
the citizens, there is no respite from the invasive surveillance methods used
by the state committee. Ustath Rashid and Faraj’s families are constantly
watched by the state’s RCM due to the suspicion of their part in the rebellion.

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As it is revealed in the novel, their telephone lines are tapped, their homes
are searched, their cars are pursued by military vehicles, and Suleiman is even
taught that the “wall has ears.” Suleiman describes the confrontation with the
RCM vehicles stating, “A car stopped so close beside us I could have touched
the driver’s cheek” (7). Moreover, the Revolutionary Committee exploit the
people in any matter required as shown by Sharief in the novel. Shareef exploits
Suleiman’s weakness by assuring him that Najwa’s “secret” is safe with him and
coerces him into providing information to protect her. Suleiman is pressured to
help Sharief and he even mentions that “he is so grateful he could have
kissed his hand” (131). The Revolutionary Committee abolished all the autonomy
the Libyan’s had and snatched their independence.

Furthermore, the Revolutionary
Committee is the major reason for the conflicts that arise between Suleiman and
his parents. As a result of the harsh punishments for drinking alcohol in Libya
and especially for the women, Najwa chooses to drink late at night to hide from
the RCM. However, that is not the lone issue as it is because of her issues
with Faraj and his decision to join the rebellion that she drinks heavily. Najwa burdens her son with her personal issues regarding
the Revolutionary Committee, causing the suffering and consequences to be
placed on Suleiman at only nine-years-old. It is the RCM that drives Najwa to
be negligent of her role as a mother and betray her son. Likewise, Faraj’s choice
to be a rebel is the foundation for the struggles Najwa faces in her life. Faraj
is rarely in her life which acts as the reason for many of the disagreements
that arise between her and Suleiman. Najwa frustration is shown throughout the
novel when she repeatedly calls her husband a “crazy fool” and blames him for
Suleiman’s actions stating that he “inspired him to madness, inspired him to
craziness” (80). Moreover, the people and especially the children in the
novel learn to distrust and betray each other so easily even though they’ve
been the closest of friends like Suleiman and Kareem. Suleiman explains
Kareem’s life after Ustath Rashid had been taken as “a certain sadness that had
entered his eyes – It was the sadness of betrayal, the silent sadness that
comes from being let down” (40). After his mother urges him to stay away
from Kareem, he starts to feel “guilty” whenever they would play alone. The
influence the government has on the people particularly the kids is revealed
when Suleiman can bear the urge and shouts at Kareem, “Everybody knows your
father is a trai…” (108).  Suleiman is
taught to abide by his government and the RCM and he naively believes
everything he hears. The Revolutionary Committee is the threshold that creates
all the disorder, chaos, and fear in Libya and in the people’s hearts.








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