Libya’s days of hope and frustration

Almost 9 months on and walking around Benghazi you get a real sense of what it must have been like to be a part of the revolution.

It was February 15th this year when a few young men gathered in a small square in the Libyan port city of Benghazi.

Inspired by the events in neighbouring Tunisia they sang songs and chanted anti regime slogans.

That small gathering erupted into mass protests and suddenly Benghazi awoke.

By February 17, a few men had become a few thousand and Benghazi led Libya to freedom after months of war and bloodshed.

Almost 9 months on and walking around Benghazi  you get a real sense of what it must have been like to be a part of the revolution.

The pictures of the dead hang everywhere, the dates of birth reminding you that war is a game for young men. 

Slow pace of reform

Every building is covered in graffitti, to the point where sometimes you can’t tell when one slogan ends and another begins, almost as though it does not matter what words are sprayed on the walls as long as freedom is being invoked. 

Benghazi’s streets are once again erupting today. This time not in anger, but in frustration.

Judging by the mood of  people on the streets, many are disappointed at slow pace of reform and financial help.

Almost everyone I speak to says the same thing “We fought for freedom, yet we have nothing”.

Friday’s demonstration is, officially at least, designed to showcase a list of demands that range from help for those who died during combat, to transparency for all governance.

Unofficially it is designed to put pressure on the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) to quicken the pace of change.

The noise of the crowd will certainly be heard across libya.


The locals say what happens in Benghazi ripples through the whole country.


The ruling NTC must be watching this demonstration with a mix of pride and nervousness. Pride that such demonstrations can now take place in a free Libya, nervous that the crowds ire is aimed at them.


But in many ways it is a good thing that people are out on the streets.

To silence them now, either by security force action or political pressure would be a disservice to those that died.


Post war countries are messy, undisciplined and chaotic places and Libya is no different.


Looking at the faces in the crowd I can see the same look I have seen from Gaza to Islamabad.


The look of hope mixed with frustration, anger mixed with optimism. 


 It’s a small crowd here, but remember it was a small crowd on February 15 … but look what happened in the months after. 


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