Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Zawia Part 2

The main battle for Zawia took place in the Meydan or square downtown. The damage around this area is nothing short of devastating. Buildings are in one of two states: demolished or beyond repair and need to be demolished. In the area of the Meydan I didn't see a single building that could simply be repaired, everything will need to be completely rebuilt.

Zawia was liberated once, taken over again by Gaddafi troops, punished for rebelling, then liberated once again for good. This back-and-forth resulted in the Meydan area looking similar to swiss cheese. One of the most unforgettable images I had of the destruction of Zawia was seeing footage of Gaddafi troops demolishing a Mosque. Beyond the blasphemy, it was a sobering reminder that nothing was sacred to Gaddafi. He would destroy any man or building to win.

Where the Mosque once stood, a tent has been set up and prayer rugs laid out to as as a Mosque till a new one can be built.

Here are a couple of shots around the Meydan. 

I can't possibly or properly describe the damage. It is beyond words. There are some questions that need to be answered and quickly where the destruction of Zawia is concerned. First and foremost is when/how to begin clean up. This needs to be addressed immediately. These half collapsed buildings  can't continue to stand where they are a year later. Beyond being an eyesore, its dangerous. Many of these collapsed buildings are connected with other buildings that are still heavy with traffic. It could suddenly come down without any warning. Its playing with fire to leave them be. Second question is the damage sustained by residential property. Who will pay for this damage? Does the government have an obligation to pay for repairs? Zawia is not a rich town. It refines oil, but it citizens didn't see those spoils. It will cost big bucks, relatively to rebuild, fix holes, and repair damages. 

While buildings may be bullet ridden and in ruins, I instantly notices how clean Zawia was relative to Tripoli or Gheryan. There wasn't nearly as much tossed waste around as I was used to seeing. The area around the Meydan is almost spotless. I was once again delighted by the focus of the citizens of Zawia to make a better city. To leave the Zawia of Gaddafi behind and better their conditions, with even small efforts. 

Zawia really is an incredible place. As I walked around, my ears filled with sounds of what I imagined the gun fire would sound like during the battles, my head filled with determination that must have been felt by the men. My heart ached for the young men who sacrificed their lives. Every single fiber of my being was consumed in an overwhelming respect for this city that never gave up. My chest puffed with pride as a Libyan. 

While Zawia seems to be on the mend, the price was immense. Not just in infrastructure but in blood as well. In the third and final part of my trip in Zawia, I visited the memorial of the Shuhada. Even now as I just type these few sentences, I tear up. The young faces of the men who fought will never leave my mind. I'll write more about the memorials in Zawia Part 3. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow! You're posts are incredible, mashAllah. Never have I cried & laughed at the same time. Keep them coming!
    & follow me back on tiwtter :D
    Your sister, Rabab