Thursday, July 03, 2008


Ibrahim keeps his toys in huge plastic laundry baskets that are filled to the brim and overflowing. He drags them out and dumps the toys out in a pile on the floor and has a great time playing with them.

Now that it's summer the neighbour kids are coming over to play too... and walking off with the toys one by one. The toy baskets are less full then they were before. I'm going to have to put my foot down and either refuse the neighbour kids entry - or search them before they leave the house.

When I was growing up I would have never thought to steal my friends' toys, and they would never have stolen mine either. But over the last twenty years in Libya toy theft has been a constant problem. I have even gone to neighbours and relatives houses to ask for the toys to be returned and been refused by the parents!... It's not only me that has had this problem - ALL of my friends report the same thing too. Sigh.... weird Libyan customs... grab it all and help your self! Now I just send the kids to 'steal' back our toys!


  1. No, you are not the only one who is having this problem Mrs.Khadija. I was victim of this wired custom too!

    When I was a kid (I'm 20 now, am I still a kid? my toys were used to be stolen by my friends. My cousin who is at the same age as me now, stole hundreds and hundreds of toys from me whenever she visited us and when I try to complain, my mum would say "Oh c'mon she is your cousin and we can't do anything about that - her parents should know this is wrong"

    I think this is also common in all Arab countries not just in Libya. Kids must be taught not to do that, because this can be dangerous when they grow up.

    Nice blow, btw

  2. Dear Khadijateri, I used to enjoy reading your blog from time to time. But I'm really fed up with the way you write about Libyans as if they were strange alien creatures. There is a distinct snobbish tone in your blog and to describe toy stealing as a 'weird Libyan custom' is taking it too far. I won't be reading your blog anymore.

  3. yet again another negative post about Libyans and their children, and you might answer to that by saying” I am not been negative, just posting what I see” that’s really not nice when you keep generalizing , as if all Libyans are a bunch of thieves and weirdoes, for god sake you are married to one of them ( a Libyan)couldn’t you show some respect to him and his culture, living over 20 years in Libya and among its people didn’t change your thinking and feeling towards this race, actually made it even worse by the looks of it, and you seemed to be forced to live their for the sack of your own children.

    Bad and good people are everywhere, and for your information here in the west just as bad, and if you want to talk about thieves, how about talking about the thieves of Baghdad..”The American army” all billion dollars they smuggled out of Iraq at the first hours of the invasion and still do to this moment, or is that “kosher money” for your boys to grab ! peace and respect

  4. rajab.. thanks for your input. I think that when a parent sees that their child has taken something it is their responsibility to make sure it is returned and that the child is taught that taking someone's belongings is stealing, even if they may be small and not worth much! These are lessons that adults are supposed to make sure children learn.

    Anonymous, I am not stating that Libyans are strange alien creatures but toy stealing seems to be thought of as something not to get upset about. That seems to be the general idea.

    Anonymous..number two.. now that I've thought about it this I noticed the 'help myself to your belongings attitude' before I ever set foot in Libya. After having knick-knacks and other things walk out of my house when people would visit. Later finding them displayed in other people's houses as though they had always been there. I'm not sure if the things had been taken by the children or by their mothers. If I went to visit someone and came home and found my child with a toy or knick-knack that I knew was not theirs I would make sure to return it and punish my child. So I think the mother's of these children are just guilty of stealing. This by the way NEVER happened when Americans or other nationalities visited me - only Libyans. (AND I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE WITH THIS COMPLAINT). So If I want to make generalisations I can... be cause this has been my personal experience over the last 25 years.

    I have had my childrens' jewelry stolen right off their bodies here! Earings removed from my daughter's ears, charms stolen from my daughter's bracelet. - sadly the charms were stolen at a family gathering... by a relative...sigh.. later I had the remaining charms soldered on so they could not be removed and found that after another family gathering two of the charms had been bent and damaged while someone (a relative) had tried in vain to remove them. At the time my daughter was a toddler and couldn't tell me who was trying to take her bling. After that we just decided not to bother with jewlery.

    As for the comment about Iraq... yes, it is sad to see the pillage of war. But I DO distinctly remember seeing the museums being ransacked and plundered by Iraqis who seemed to think nothing of stealing their national treasures.

    Another thing (or two) I would like to mention.... Look at any Libyan house and what do you see? HIGH WALLS AND BARS ON THE WINDOWS - explain to me why this is necessary in a country that is supposed to be inhabited by pious Muslims? Very few houses in my country have bars and walls... thank God!

  5. Like mother like boy. both smart.. good boy


  6. y did you marry a libyan man? now that u u regret it

  7. Dear Khadija Teri,

    I have been married to a Lybian for almost 16 years. I know that most of what you are saying is true. I give you a lot of credit for living in Lybia all these years. I am also an American and I could NEVER live there in a million years.

  8. we Libyans are so quick at getting offended even when we know that what is said can be right.
    Khadija Teri tends to critisise issues that Libyans have hardly dealt with, I know she can be straightforward which some people do not like but on the other hand if we did not have these problems then Teri would not be blogging about them, to accuse her of hating Libya and Libyans is utter nonsense, at the end of the day her husband and children are Libyans and part of the community.

    Here in the UK we have a huge Libyan community, a lot of it can be described as little Libya, that means they still hang on to Libyan customs, the good & the bad.
    most Libyans here ban children from attending functions like weddings because of the DESTRUCTION caused by the children to venues, because of the mess they cause, the fights, the tantrums, the problem lies with the parents, they see what their kids are doing but they are so busy gossiping and eating that they do not see their kids doing anything wrong, if anything they encourage them to behave even more badly. This applies equally to mothers and fathers, the careless attitude, many Libyans here have complained about some kids behaviour, they ended up in punch ups with the parents of the bad kids parents because they can not see the wrong of their precious little ones.
    constructive critisism is not wrong, even if its harsh, what is wrong is getting offended while not doing anything to correct ourselves.
    many of us are so relaxed about critsising the west and its people, of course there are many wrong things with western society but why is it we hardly ever mention the good things?? believe me there are more good that we can learn from, that can be beneficial to our society, picking on bad points is weak and is like hiding behind a thin wall that will one day soon fall.

  9. The problem with Libyans (the comments here prove that) is that they are not honest about themselves. They think they are perfect and they hate criticism. And If you are wondering, I was born and raised in Libya and so I know the good and bad things. I know how Libyans behave, think and understand life. However, there are always exceptions. There are Libyans who cultivated, moderate and who know how life really works.

    I'm very sad to see that most of the comments on this blog are a bit negative. Whenever Mrs,Khadija criticizes something, the dump people come out and say "Oh shame on you, you are not Libyan, you are still American, how come you say that? Crap! And the funny thing when Mrs.Khadija writes a post praising Libyans or it just not so negative, the same dump people show up and say "You are truly Libyan - I'm happy that you know about culture and that you live in Libya, married to Libyan... blah blah blah - they are just arrogant (and other nations have those too, but they are a lot in Libya)

    I'm a professional blogger (I make my living off it) and there is one thing I know and it is that blogging is difficult and sometimes stressful. Kudos to Mrs.Khadija whom I'am amazed at her ability to keep blogging with so negative press - you are so amazing and I can't believe that you have been blogging since 2004. You must have gone through a lot of ups and downs - personal and technical problems and I'm sure that that crappy Dialup-connection was simply killing you ;)

  10. what did happen to khalid ?

  11. I wholeheartedly agree with you. Children need to be taught it's not ok to take other people's belongings. Period. You would not believe the things that disappeared during weddings with friends? and relatives? I was told to make sure doors were locked, cars locked, window shutters closed and locked and nothing of value visable from window. People need to wake up and smell the coffee! It can only be fixed if people don't bury their head in the sand and make excuses.

  12. when i was 5 or so( a very long time ago) i went to the store with my mom. when we were in line to pay for the things my mom had gotten i found an open pack of gum on the floor. i thought wow this is mine I found it. i took a piece and put it in my mouth (it was my favorite gum) and then put the rest in my pocket. my mom didnt notice til we were in the parking lot of the store that i had gum in my mouth, can you believe she accused me of stealing... i said no i found it, really i did it was on the floor.... do you know that women marched me back into the store and i had to confess to eveyone that i was a thief and pay for that gum....SINCE THAT TIME I HAVE NEVER TAKEN ANYTHING THAT DIDNT BELONG TO ME AGAIN.. (unless you add in the stuff i took from my sisters) it was a lesson that was hard to learn( i was only 5 or so) but something i never forgot...can you believe that my mom did the moral of the story is that both the parent and the child are responsible for bringing back what the CHILD has taken or at the very least paying for it... hugs holly and the kids

  13. Sometimes,I feel you're stuck there..Make the best of it Teri

  14. hey K, nice blog, kudos for believing in freedom of speech, and for putting up with some of the uncivilized comments you get from some "poor Libyans".
    I have been in Libya for quasi 6 months now, and what you have described in "Toys" is basically what I have witnessed as well.
    Here's what I think is one of the main causes for most Libyans lacking a "moral compass". There's simply way too much in-breeding in Libya. That's just the tip of the iceberg unfortunately. A very good Libyan friend (highly educated, author,poet,and a successful business-person) gave me this assessment of his own people. 30% of Libyans are uncivilized, the 2nd 30% are backward, the 3rd 30% are both uncivilized & backward, the remaining 10% are what makes him love Libyans. Wow 9 out of 10 Libyans are...well odd!!!!

  15. Luke!!!!???? what the hell are you talking about, 6 months and think you have a position to judge.
    Khadija, I have kids and when they have friends over the same thing happens, however when their parents are there, there's always a discussion at the front door whith the parents forcing the kids to give the toy back and me not wanting any fuss and crying to just say its OK, they can have it. I know I'm wrong, but our culture has a tendancy to force us to be giving and not bother about little things like toys, but these little things become bigger as the children get older, and thats the problem that we are having to deal with now, this issue of grown men and women taking whats not theirs, be it money or land. I'm afraid as much as your blog offended me KhadijaTeri, I completley agree with you 100%

  16. Well, I gotta jump in the ring here. First, as a child growing up in Italy, my toys were stolen at an alarming rate by the Italian kids so maybe it's a Mediterranean thing???? Here in Libya the Libyan kids steal my toys too! In three years, I've had four soccer balls taken. And the funny thing is, I let the neighborhood boys play with one, and think nothing of it, but then when I ask for it back, they tell me some kids stole it from them! LMFAO! I drive further through the neighborhood and see a group of different boys playing with it. LOL.
    But here's the can't make this shit up... One evening I was coming home on my bicycle and it had just gotten dark and I got off my bike to push it through the gate and there was an extension cord running from the outlet outside my front door, over the wall, across the street, over the neighbors wall. So I walked up and unplugged it...the enitre house across the street went black, and the entire libyan family came out shouting at me becuase I turned off their electricity! LLOOOOOOLLL!

  17. OMG. I'm married to a libya too.. (not for much longer I hope) and the last time we went there a relative on his side stole a necklace and pendant from my child's neck as she was sleeping!!!

    People just grab your things and use them without even asking. Grab your phone and make calls. Take your make up etc.. my mother in law advised me to LOCK everything up.

    Now why would that be? I'm REALLY not used to that kind of behaviour, especially among people you consider family and close friends.


  18. Hello Khadja Teri

    What do you know about mines in libyen.Själv interested because of a svenkt company sent 2 machines dit.För to reveal machine.
    Are there mines so that you can not use certain areas.
    Has never been in liben.Vore interesting if you could speak up a little
    mvh adacta


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