Women’s rights advocate assassinated in Benghazi

Libyan women's rights activist and attorney Salwa Bughaigis was assassinated June 25 by five gunmen who broke into her home in Benghazi's Hawari district and shot her in the head. Her husband, Essam al-Ghariani, recently elected to Benghazi's Municipal Council, is missing, and presumed kidnapped. A gardener was also shot and wounded in the attack. Bughaigis had just returned home after voting in Libya's second general election since the 2011 revolution, and posted pictures on her Facebook page of herself casting her vote. She was also on local TV earlier in the day, speaking about ongoing clashes in the city, which she said she could see from her house. She urged people to go out and vote in spite of the violence.

A former member of the National Transitional Council, Bughaigis was more recently involved in planning a national dialogue to address Libya's multiple crises. However, her support for women’s rights made her a vocal opponent of not only Islamic extremists but also the Muslim Brotherhood and the Grand Mufti. She was opposed the hijab, insisting it was not Islamic, and rarely even wore a headscarf. She had received a number of death threats, and after a reported attempt to kill her son earlier this year went abroad with her entire family.

The new election was  marred by both low turnout and deadly violence. Clashes in Benghazi claimed five lives, with another 30 wounded. (Libya Herald, AFP, BBC News, June 25)