Living in fear
The vast majority of Libyans that one meets in the east of Libya, or fleeing across to Egypt, are adamantly anti-Qaddafi. But that’s not to say they don’t have an intrinsic respect for him and his apparatus, albeit one born of fear.
This man, wishing only to be described as “Gh.B.” was incredibly paranoid about speaking to us, for fear of retribution by the Libyan security services. “They can know you based on just a small part of your body, or your voice” he says. Whilst he said this, I adjusted the focus on my lens, rendering his silhouette out of focus to as not to provide a detailed profile as he sat in the apartment being lent to him in Marsa Matrouh. Two days previously, he was reluctant about having even his shadow photographed.
Gh.B. has reason to fear the Libyan security. He claims to already have a “political file” in the country and having suffered imprisonment. Despite being “under surveillance”, he decided to take part in the protests that marked the start of the Libyan revolution. But due to what he describes as “political intimidation”, he had to take the hard decision of leaving behind Libya, and his family there. “I asked my mother to leave with me” he says, talking of the day he left, “but she is old, and could not travel such long distances”. She is now staying with Gh.B.’s brother.
“I am so worried about my family - I can’t call them, we cannot communicate” he says. His fear is born of both the war, and of the Qaddafi agents remaining in Benghazi.
Unsure of when he will be able to return to Libya, he says “I feel there is no future for us; it is so dark for us now”.