Libyans Celebrate Anniversary of Revolution Amid Troubles
Residents of Libya’s two major cities took to the streets on Friday to commemorate the second anniversary of an event that many Libyans consider the “spark” of their revolution. The gatherings were remarkable for what they were not. In the capital, instead of using the day to voice discontent with the temporary parliament elected last summer or to call for political and security reforms to be implemented more swiftly, Libyans spoke with pride about the sacrifices they made during the bloody nine-month uprising.
In the East of the country, local leaders in the city of Benghazi canceled mass demonstrations for autonomy in the neglected region over fears they could spark violence, which did not materialize. Reuters reported from Benghazi that a crowd of 2,000 people gathered and chanted anti-government slogans amid songs and speeches of celebration.
Although the official anniversary of the 2011 uprising is not until Sunday, the initial gatherings on Friday allayed fears inside and outside of Libya that the event could be hijacked by radical Islamist elements or other armed groups, particularly in the East, where resentment against the transitional government in the capital runs high and citizens bear the brunt of a near-absence of functioning government and security institutions.
The festive mood in the capital and the relatively subdued atmosphere in Benghazi, the birthplace of the revolution, could be viewed as a reprieve from the deep troubles that beset the country.