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Violence between rebel factions hints at civil war in Libya

Gaddafi's ghost hangs over a country with competing visions of what it means to be a Libyan.
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Libyan firefighters extinguish a fire caused by a powerful blast near a foreign ministry building on September 11, 2013 in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. The explosion comes on the first anniversary of an attack by militants on the United States consulate in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, including the ambassador. (Abdullah Doma/AFP/Getty Images)

Correspondent Bill Wheeler was awarded the first annual GroundTruth fellowship for field reporting on emerging democracies in the Middle East. In this final segment of a five-part blog series for GroundTruth, Wheeler goes inside the militias that are still holding sway in the chaotic aftermath of Libya’s civil war (see links to all five pieces at the end of this segment). 

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Libya's militia-splintered state

The war against Gaddafi was won in a series of independent uprisings, leaving heavily armed groups — each with its own narrative of sacrifice and victory. Today alliances between Libyan politicians and these militias hearken back to the previous era.
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A Libyan protester holds a gun during clashes between demonstrators and troops of the Libyan Shield Forces (LSF), a coalition of militias, following a demonstration outside the LSF office in the northern city of Benghazi on June 8, 2013. (Abdullah Doma/AFP/Getty Images)

Correspondent Bill Wheeler was awarded the first annual GroundTruth fellowship for field reporting on emerging democracies in the Middle East. In this running blog series for GroundTruth, Wheeler goes inside the militias that are still holding sway in the chaotic aftermath of Libya’s civil war.

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Libyan militias' new strategy: Occupy Oil Field

Armed groups are exploiting the state's weakness and showing their own power in several ways, including shutting down oil production at various sites.
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An empty bullet shell is seen outside the entrance of the al-Ghani oil field, belonging to Libya's Harouge Oil Operations company, near the city of Waddan in the central Al-Jufrah province on March 23, 2013. Libya plans to invite bids from foreign firms for oil concessions by the end of 2013 as Tripoli wants to increase its OPEC output quota despite conflict with armed militias, strikes and allegations of corruption. (Abdullah Doma/AFP/Getty Images)

Correspondent Bill Wheeler was awarded the first annual GroundTruth fellowship for field reporting on emerging democracies in the Middle East. In this running blog series for GroundTruth, Wheeler goes inside the militias that are still holding sway in the chaotic aftermath of Libya’s civil war.

TRIPOLI, Libya — Most of Libya’s oil is in the east, and federalist protests there are seen as an existential threat to a unified Libya.

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How militias took control of post-Gaddafi Libya

Toppling Muammar Gaddafi created a security vacuum that the new government filled with former freedom fighters. Now the trick is convincing them to put down their weapons.
Libya militias funeral June 2013Enlarge
Residents of the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi mourn on June 9, 2013 as they bury the bodies of the demonstrators that were killed during clashes between former rebels and anti-militia protestors the previous day. The fighting erupted after dozens of demonstrators, some of them armed, tried to dislodge the powerful Libyan Shield Forces brigade from its barracks, an AFP correspondent at the scene said. (Abdullah Doma/AFP/Getty Images)

Correspondent Bill Wheeler was awarded the first annual GroundTruth fellowship for field reporting on emerging democracies in the Middle East. In this running blog series for GroundTruth, Wheeler goes inside the militias that are still holding sway in the chaotic aftermath of Libya’s civil war.

More

Libya opposition's challenge to Muslim Brotherhood reminiscent of Egypt showdown

With charges pending against the alleged killers of US Ambassador Chris Stevens, militias show who's really in charge.
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Libyan protesters display documents they have ransacked from the offices of Muslim Brotherhood-backed Party of Justice and Construction, in the Libyan capital Tripoli on July 27, 2013. Protesters attacked offices of Libya's Muslim Brotherhood as demonstrations sparked by a wave of assassinations in the eastern city of Benghazi turned violent. (Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images)

Correspondent Bill Wheeler was awarded the first annual GroundTruth fellowship for field reporting on emerging democracies in the Middle East. In this running blog series for GroundTruth, Wheeler goes inside the militias that are still holding sway in the chaotic aftermath of Libya’s civil war.

More

Sound Byte: Pope Francis changes the conversation about homosexuality and the church

Pope Francis' news conference on the flight home from Brazil this week made headlines - and sparked a new discussion.

 

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

After Pope Francis held an 80-minute conference with journalists on his return flight from Brazil on Monday, this quote made headlines around the world, with everyone scrambling to unravel what it means for the Catholic Church.

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Hip-hop can't stop, won't stop in Burma

As Myanmar opens up to the rest of the world, foreign influence — in the form of hip-hop culture — has already taken hold.
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Burmese hip-hop artist Ash poses in front of graffiti art in Yangon, Myanmar. (Van Patrick King/GlobalPost)

YANGON, Myanmar — Myanmar’s reforms over the last two years are opening the nation to the wider world, experts say, allowing the once-cloistered nation to experience greater foreign influence as it eases restrictions on its people.

But throughout Yangon, from political graffiti tags on walls, to teens breakdancing in clubs, to the throbbing sounds of Burmese rap coming from the open windows of passing cars, cultural exchange in the form of hip-hop culture is already alive and well.

In a cafe in downtown Burma, 21-year-old rappers Ash and X-Box explain the challenges that came with creating hip-hop culture in a military dictatorship. Part of an underground scene here in Yangon, their clothing would fit in seamlessly in any hip-hop concert or video in the United States.

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Christians keeping the faith in Pakistan despite 'intimidation and violence'

Amid ongoing persecution, what remains of Lahore’s Christian minority keeps tradition alive on Sunday mornings.
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Pakistani Christian devotees gather around a Crucifix as they attend a Good Friday service at the Saint Francis Church in Lahore on March 29, 2013. (Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images)

LAHORE, Pakistan — It was a strange, almost jarring sight to see a group of adults chatting and sipping tea outside in the broad, muggy daylight last Sunday morning. The fasting month of Ramadan – or Ramzan as it is known here in Pakistan – is well underway, which means that even in Lahore, a city famous for its food, public eating and drinking, has come to a halt during daylight hours. Ever since former President Zia ul-Haq’s 1981 Ehtram-e-Ramzan (respect for Ramadan) Ordinance, even the country’s non-Muslim minority population is expected to refrain from public consumption.

But hidden inside the heavily guarded grounds of the Cathedral Church of the Resurrection in central Lahore, Pakistani families and a handful of foreigners gathered around a table of biscuits after the end of the Anglican service. Rajil Joshua, a restaurant manager, tells me that his family has been attending services at the Cathedral for over 80 years.

“Coming here is a tradition within my family,” he explains, noting that his grandfather attended the same English service throughout his entire life.

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Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood heads back underground, starts 'Tahrir 2.0'

After the military ouster of Mohamed Morsi and the arrest of several senior leaders, the Brotherhood is playing a familiar role: pariah.
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Supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi hold a sit-in outside Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque on July 25, 2013 in Cairo. (FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

CAIRO, Egypt – Under a waxing crescent moon, we pushed through the crowd of Muslim Brotherhood supporters at the Raba’a al-Adawiya Mosque, still camped out by the tens of thousands in a courtyard and in the nearby warrens of alleys and side streets.

The mosque has been transformed into the epicenter of a protest movement against the military’s decision to oust and detain Mohamed Morsi, the first-ever democratically elected president in the nation’s 5,000-year history and a political leader who emerged from the once-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

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Returning to Cairo — and an Egypt divided

The military's reassertion of power over the Muslim Brotherhood has polarized Egypt. GlobalPost's Charles Sennott returns to Cairo during a particularly turbulent time.
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A supporter of Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi is held back by riot policemen during a rally on the road leading to Cairo's Tahrir Square on July 17, 2013. Egypt's new government is faced with a raft of daunting challenges including restoring security as angry loyalists of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi rallied against the military-backed administration. (Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images)

Deadly clashes that killed seven and wounded more than 260 on Monday night are the product of an increasingly divided Egypt, two weeks after the military intervened against President Mohamed Morsi to the outrage of the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters.

On Wednesday, thousands of Morsi supporters gathered in Cairo for a "Day of Steadfastness" after the military formed an interim cabinet that included no Brotherhood members while Morsi remains under arrest at an unknown location.

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