Breaking News
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

Ten years on, Libyan revolutionaries live with wounds and unfulfilled dreams

WorldFeb 16, 2021 05:26AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
2/2 © Reuters. Usama Ali al-aguri sits with his children at their home in Benghazi 2/2

MISRATA, Libya (Reuters) - As revolution swept their region in 2011, three young Libyans joined mass protests against Muammar Gaddafi's four-decade rule. They now live divided by Libya's frontlines, their futures irrevocably shaped by the uprising.

The first demonstrations against Gaddafi's rule began in the eastern city of Benghazi on Feb. 17, 2011. A decade on, Libya is still split between rival factions, and shell and shrapnel holes scar its cities.

The United Nations has backed a new effort to unite Libya's warring sides through an interim government and national elections at the end of the year. But many Libyans remain sceptical.


Usama Ali al-Aguri, a graduate from Benghazi, was unemployed in 2011 and at the time decried what he called the "injustice that we suffered and heard of from our fathers and grandfathers".

As the fighting spread through the summer of 2011, he joined the assault on Tripoli. When he and a comrade went to reconnoitre an attack, Gaddafi's forces spotted them.

"There was massive shooting at us. I got a bullet in my leg," he said. His comrade was killed. He ended up in a wheelchair, paralysed from the waist down.

He condemns many of those who emerged as leaders in 2011. "The revolution has been stolen from the honourable people now in their graves," he said.

As the country fell further apart, he joined many others from the east in backing Khalifa Haftar, head of the eastern military forces whose push to capture Tripoli failed last year.

Aguri said his injury changed his life. Now 34, he lives for his two children, he said, and for work he goes each morning to the cattle market to buy and sell livestock.


Hisham al-Windi came from a family that did well under Gaddafi - his father was a diplomat. But after taking part in protests, he learned he was wanted by police and fled to Tunis.

Travelling to the south of Tunisia, he crossed through a border post held by the rebels and joined their battle in the western mountains. "I was several months in the fight," he said.

Windi was among the first fighters to storm Gaddafi's Tripoli compound. Wandering through the rooms where the leader had lived, he found an item known to all Libyans - his brocaded military hat.

Interviewed that day on television wearing the hat, Windi voiced his hopes for the future, briefly gaining international recognition as a face of Libya's uprising.

"I wanted to say first that Libyans were not as bad as people thought. And I was also saying 'Gaddafi is finished and we need to rebuild'," he said.

He now works in Tunis and is hopeful for change.

"People say to me: 'you took part in this disaster. How do you like it now?' Well of course I don't. But it doesn't mean you have to choose between Gaddafi and chaos. Revolution is a process. We must build a new Libya that we deserve," he said.


In Misrata, Malek Salem al-Mejae, then aged 20, began to fight in 2011 when his city came under attack by Gaddafi's forces.

That July, he, too, was wounded, losing a leg.

"I was in the back of the truck. A missile fell behind us," he said. "Some of my friends were killed. I received treatment in Tunisia, then returned to Libya."

He had hoped to see far greater progress in Libya than he has in the last decade, and blames Libya's post-revolutionary leaders for the country's failure to unite.

"Unfortunately the situation is as you see it after 10 years of wars. The politicians, who were entrusted with the task, were not up to the standard."

Ten years on, Libyan revolutionaries live with wounds and unfulfilled dreams

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email