The paper, based on archival sources and Arabic press, addresses the emergence and construction of a Libyan nation and nationalism, particularly among Libyan exiles, in the Mediterranean region from the 1930s until independence. Since the 1930s, associations of Libyan exiles in Tunisia, Syria and Egypt began to imagine the future of their country in an attempt to find an alternative to both Italian colonial occupation, and the older previous political system,which had collapsed in its wake.I discuss how the influence of Pan-Arabism in the theoretical elaboration of a “Libyan nation-state”led to referring to the Libyan nation as an Arab nation. The papers tresses the contribution of Sulayman al-Baruni to the debate. Particular attention is devoted to a series of articles published in 1937 by al-Baruni in al-Rabita al-‛Arabiyya. This weekly Egyptian magazine was an important instrument in giving voice to different points of view on the Libyan question. I argue that al-Baruni’s stress on an Arab-Islamic identity probably aimed at appeasing and overcoming the divergences between Tripolitanians and Cyrenaicans concerning the “imagined” future Libyan nation.(Upon independence, the Arabism-Islam binomial became the watchword for the construction of a new national identity. This binomial did not include the Berbers and other minority groups and denied them any official recognition).
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