Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Snapshot Tripoli: February 17, 2013

The following is an excerpt from my personal, narrative non-fiction snapshot of Tripoli during the second anniversary of Libya's February 17 revolution, published in Guernica.

The second anniversary of Libya’s revolution, in February of 2013, brought a festival to Tripoli’s streets. Local pride drove fierce competition in celebrations, but many will happily concede that the neighborhood of Fashloum won beautifully. Local kids handed out mints and chocolates to cars in transit. At heavily armed checkpoints, young men dressed in new military uniforms and government badges sprayed orange blossom perfume into open car windows in jest, in revelry. They—we—danced in the streets, in the cafes, on the roofs of moving cars, singing songs about the land. Flags dressed cars, buildings, walls, heads and necks and chests and backs. Wildly crisscrossing networks of red, yellow, and green illuminated wires, shadowed alleys glowed like hearths. Fireworks launched the colors of the flag into the sky as we danced below.

In my lap was a Beretta. I’d heard the ominous name before. Its black metal, its grooves, its markings looked too real. “Yes,” said the stoned revolutionary in front of me, leading us at 80 miles-an-hour down narrow city streets, inches away from other moving cars, “it’s loaded.” This kid was supposedly a cop, and he drove a bullet-proof, custom-made, black BMW that he took as booty from the ex-regime’s interior ministry during the revolution. The thing really flew. He asked me to take off my seat belt: it made me look like a foreigner at checkpoints.

To read the full piece, click here.

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