New article over at QW Magazine about the city that doesn’t give up! You can read all about it here.
(Some stuff did get edited, I guess I got carried away. If you wanna read the complete article, I’m posting it here)
It’s an accepted (or perhaps ignored) fact that the media doesn’t report good news. Whether a necessary policy or an appeal to viewer interest, the truth is that most people don’t hear about the aftermath of a reported tragedy. So it goes with Benghazi.
For example, after the media circus that took place after the US embassy attack, no one really reported on the general mood of the city, or how it was trying to pick up the pieces of its shattered reputation. The government shifted to other pressing matters while news agencies went on look for other tragedies. Now, more than two weeks after the Al-Jalaa hospital blast, there is again no media coverage on the repercussions of the incident on the city.
To an outsider, one might look from each attack being reported and think; it’s just another unstable city in a troubled region. But what’s special about Benghazi is the determination and effort being made by the citizens to stabilize the city after these types of attacks.
The month of April saw a remarkable boost in civil society activities. There was a parade to celebrate the city as a capital of culture. A used book fair was held, the first of its kind since the revolution. An old photos gallery was set up, a community event to revive the old town hall plaza was organized, a new theatre was opened.
Work has already begun on a temporary concourse to improve performance at Benina International airport, set to be completed by February 17th of next year, and will function until the new terminal is completed.
This is not to mention the various campaigns held by NGOs to bolster public awareness on issues such as drug use and government policies.
But all this was forgotten in the wake of the bomb blast that went off outside Al-Jalaa Hospital, killing three people and injuring dozens. A dubious theory was put forth by the government which did nothing to relieve the dismay felt by the explosion. Nothing of the sort had ever occurred in the city, even during the revolution. Whether it was a deliberate attack or a fisherman’s mistake did not change the fact that city was dealing with a major security vacuum. This fact was reaffirmed the next day when a police station in the Fwayhat district was attacked and set on fire by group of armed thugs.
It’s been more than two weeks now since the eye-opening incident at the hospital, and Benghazi has been playing host to Special Forces deployed to keep the peace and crack down on lawlessness. Several arrests have been made, weapons have been confiscated and there is a general feeling of safety, at least for the time being. They are still on patrol and have even been helping to direct traffic in the city’s more congested areas.
The government has also lined up a series of projects aimed at developing the city, ranging from high-rise buildings, street paving, as well as resuming work on the unfinished projects. There is even a plan to move the headquarters of the state oil firm back to Benghazi.
The local media has attempted to report on these developments, but their range and skill is limited. The international community still remains in the dark about the efforts being made to bring the city back on track.
It’s the small acts of change that make the biggest difference in a country facing an uncertain future, and right now Libya could use all the hope it can get. Regardless of press coverage, good or bad, the thought of Libya as the ‘next Iraq’ is rejected by the people, and Benghazi is a prime example of Libyans determined not to give up just yet.