The XX Factor

Libyan State TV Goes After Iman al-Obeidi

Thanks to Anderson Cooper and CNN, the details in the saga of missing Libyan law student Iman al-Obeidi are becoming clearer. And more depressing. CNN has tracked down Obeidi’s family-no small feat in a country where international journalists are closely monitored-and they say that Iman has not been released to them, despite the government’s claim to the contrary, which meshes with what Emily Yoffe wrote here yesterday . Meanwhile, the smear campaign against Obeidi continues, and it’s no longer coming just from Libya’s clownish spokesman , Musa Ibrahim. No, even worse. Iman is being betrayed by at least one fellow woman, who has the nerve to call her “sister.” On a Libyan state-run television, the anchor (who appears at about the 57-second mark of this CNN clip), says that “with all due respect to whores, even a whore might have some sense of patriotism.”

Set aside for a moment the sad sight of one woman calling another woman a “whore” on a news program (however common it might be on The Jersey Shore ). It’s hard to understand why the Libyan government is making such a fuss about this. Qaddafi’s forces have been subjected to air strikes, his country is under a no-fly zone, and President Obama reportedly signed a no-longer-quite-so-secret order allowing the CIA to support the rebels. There are bigger fish to fry. And it’s obvious that they hope by denigrating Iman al-Obeidi that they will belittle her, make her less significant. Problem is, by refusing to release her or even stop mocking her and tearing her down, they are achieving the exact opposite effect.