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Libya at a Crossroads

Libya at a Crossroads

© Jean-Marc Caimi/Redux

Jean-Marc Caimi, a photojournalist based in Rome,  traveled to Libya recently to shoot personal work about the aftermath of the revolution. Here is a look at part of what he captured during the month he spent traveling around the country. “We made the revolution, now is time to change people’s mind” is the slogan that Caimi heard echoing throughout the country, mostly by those who are trying to affect positive change during this critical period of transition. Caimi explains, “The air you breath is thick and tense. There’s fear, suspicion, mistrust. The dictator might be dead, but Gaddafi’s imprint is still there, strong and oppressive. Tripoli looks like an abandoned city, with garbage and rubble at every corner. The Medina lies in dreadful condition due to the negligence of 42 years of the regime.

People who appreciate the new situation seem to be the middle aged or elderly, who have been hoping for a change for years. The young are unsatisfied and angry. They are the target of the extremists who use religion to get a hold of them. Many are incapable of seeing a future. They enroll in the militias that are patrolling the streets, just to have a uniform and gun.

There’s drug and alcohol smuggling in the alleyways, just around every corner. HIV is spreading. There are weapons – everybody holds a gun, at least a knife, and is ready to use it. Almost every woman wears hijab, at least to avoid any problems from men. There might be more intellectual freedom and Libya is an oil rich country, but very few are in the position to take advantage of those factors. Life in the street is hard, dusty, and dangerous. The stranglehold of ignorance and extremism hangs gloomily over the country. Libya’s most difficult challenge has not passed. It is here and now.”

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