Where the streets have new names

Just like the other revolutionary countries – most notably Egypt but also Tunisia, Bahrain, Syria and others – Libya has seen an explosion in street art. Under Gaddafi, neither political opposition nor independent cultural expressions were tolerated. Graffiti pieces like those you can see all over the streets today – mocking Gaddafi, celebrating the Libyan people – were unthinkable. Mashallah has put together a gallery with some of the street art of post-Gaddafi Libya. The photographs were taken in Benghazi, Tripoli and Misrata during February and March.

//This mural can be seen next to the historical arch in Tripoli’s Old City.
//Hands breaking free from chains, birds flying towards the sky, graffitied graffiti. A symbolic mural from Tripoli.
//“The random firing of bullets scares us” says this mural in central Tripoli. After the war ended, an abundance of weapons in the country has led to many people being accidentally shot.
//Dignity, Equality, Rule of Law, Justice, Struggle – concepts familiar in all the revolutions of the past year.
//The green-painted doors were everywhere in Gaddafi’s Libya – green was the official colour of the past regime. Today, they are popular canvases for street artists.
//An ever-present motif on the streets: the restored pre-Gaddafi red-green-black flag. In this Tripoli mural, the green Jamahariya flag is ripped down to reveal the new banner behind it.
//In many Libyan cities, street names and the names of squares have been changed; formally or informally. According to graffiti, many streets now bear the names of martyred people from the neighbourhood. This wall in Misrata is filled with names of those who were killed in the fighting.
//“Who am I” – a phrase alluding to Gaddafi’s infamous February 22 speech in which he asked the Libyan people “Min entum?”, “Who are you?”
//Murals mocking Gaddafi are everywhere. This one has a sign that says “Exit”, pointing in the direction to where Gaddafi is headed. The old leader is being crushed by the weight of his Jamahiriya, the word he used to describe his so-called “state of the masses”.
//Omar Al-Mukhtar is a popular resistance hero who was hanged by the Italian colonialists in 1931. During the Gaddafi regime, he was omitted from national history and never mentioned in history text books in school. Today, his portrait can be seen everywhere in Benghazi.
//A Benghazi wall shows what big inspirations Tunisia and Egypt were to the Libyan revolution.
//A great piece from Benghazi.
//In central Benghazi.
//Scribbles on a destroyed house on Misrata’s Tripoli Street, where fighting was heavy for several months.
//“Misrata – the city of resistance/endurance”. This is a message that can be seen all over the formerly besieged town.
// “No to the killings of innocent” says this piece just off Benghazi’s Freedom Square. The man carefully painted over the wall around the mural, leaving the message intact.


All photos were taken by Karim Mostafa and Jenny Gustafsson
Article edited by Josef Burton

This article is published with the courtesy of Mashallah News, Babelmed’s Partner.


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