Souad receives threats regularly through social media in particular. They are periodic threats: "If I post a criticism, on my Facebook page, of a fatwa of Sheikh Sadiq Al-Ghariani, I receive comments telling that Sheikh Ghariani is a prominent scholar, and that the flesh of scholars is poisoned. They publish posts against me, where they depict me as a whore as I am not veiled, they accuse me of inciting people against young people demanding the application of Sharia."
In the street, Souad Salem is afraid that someone might harm her, because of the prevailing hatred speech against women, in general: "Friday sermons and religious lessons broadcast by most Libyan television channels, include direct incitement against women. They consider the veil as a sixth pillar of Islam, in the sense that any woman who is unveiled is necessarily a prostitute. This the form of the bitch here. This does create a hostile atmosphere to women on the street which increases the rate of harassment, and makes other people dare aggress you more. You look as if you were constantly guilty or an easy target."
Souad Salem explains this change toward women in the Libyan street by law too. Some laws have been suspended such as the polygamy law. "The old laws used to preserve to some extent women's dignity, who used to give their approval for their husbands if they wanted to get married again, although there was nothing in the law to stop or limit polygamy, although the state of health of the husband and his financial situation should allow it."
Souad Salem refers to the decline of women's status also with regard to employment and jobs. Women are no longer allowed to, for example, to work in the army and the police." She adds:" The controversy even reached the issue of whether women can drive cars, work, and also the need to travel with a Muharram, a close relative."
Souad stresses: "This is frightening, this is a backward and reactionary discourse in every sense of the word. This is without speaking of the story of the niqab and wearing the niqab by women teachers, prohibiting gender diversity at work, in universities and schools. This prohibition has already been applied in some areas, in addition to the headscarf that appeared during the era of Gaddafi as something imposed."
Ms. Salem focused on the paralysis that has affected quickly, since 2014, any new movement as soon as it appears. She gave the example of a group she used to belong to, whose members would protest every Thursday against the Mufti's decisions. The third meeting saw their number decrease before it stopped once for all."
The issue of weakness did not affect women only, it also affected youth movements that looked promising at the beginning, such as the Student Selm Movement, and the Movement of Enlightenment. Souad says: "We were enthusiastic, but they disappeared quickly as a result of frustration, disappointment and stagnation that overwhelmed everyone. We try to live as the illusion of joy as we lived it with the ball recently, but in crucial issues, but it is impossible to gather a hundred people at most. Indeed, you can no longer take advantage of freedoms now, to be in real lobbying groups, to achieve a clear and consistent goal or stick to a motto."
Ms. Salem adds: " It is not only this." She stresses that to try to get rid of a passive mindset, will make people leave you. You would believe they are up to your expectations, they are an intellectual or an enlightened elite, but... This is how Souad lost old and new friendships alike.
She says: "All this happened during the past four years, there is indeed a significant decline in prospects, ambitions, goals and dreams. The culture of the whole society in recent years, tended towards individualism, away from the public interest, as if this country were not ours."
Souad Salem wishes that Libyans would get rid of this state of denial they are experiencing: "The actual change has to start from the inside with the will of a genuine change. The story of Libya as a whole is not as simple as you dream of, because Libyans do not change easily."