US consulate attack: Libyans react to Benghazi violence


The US is investigating whether the attack in Libya that killed the US ambassador and several other people was planned in advance, officials say.

The assault had earlier been thought to have been a spontaneous reaction to protests over an anti-Islamic film.

Here, people in Libya give their views on the attack, the security situation and the future of their country.

Hajer Sharief, NGO worker, Tripoli

Image caption,
Hajer Sharief: The attack is a wake-up call

We Libyans are filled with grief. Chris Stevens was more than an ambassador - he was a friend.

We condemn this barbaric act, which does not represent us as Libyans and Muslims and we send our sincere condolences to his family and friends.

This attack is a wake-up call for us, a realisation of the danger and the urgent need to defend freedom.

It showed the world how bad our security situation is. What it showed us Libyans is just how powerful these groups are - and how weak the Libyan authorites are.

We weren't pleased about the situation months ago: We protested; we wrote in newspapers and magazines; we discussed it on TV channels.

We raised our voices to ask for a real initiative from the authorities to build a national army and ban ordinary citizens from holding weapons. Nothing happened.

This is our turning point: We should not give up on the great achievement of our revolution and the great hope that our martyrs gave us.

Our grief has turned to anger and anger to courage. We are more determined now to rebuild a new civilised democratic Libya. This is what Ambassador Stevens would have wanted.

Mohamed Ben Jaballah, car dealer, Tripoli

I was not surprised when I heard about the attack. It was expected, because there is a lot of anti-US feeling in the country.

This attack is an expression of Libyan anger towards US foreign policy and I am sure the worst is yet to come.

The people who supported [ousted leader Col Muammar] Gaddafi are angry with Americans for removing him and those who didn't support him would have preferred to remove him without US interference.

What is happening in the country worries me very much. There is no law and order. Everyone has a weapon and they can do whatever they want.

My life has changed a lot after the revolution. I am a black Libyan and I suffer constant intimidation from the rebels who think that I am a Gaddafi supporter (because there were many African mercenaries).

It happens all the time when I leave the house - I get stopped, searched, interrogated. I used to have a normal life; now everything has changed and I don't see any hope.

Ali Farag, engineer, Benghazi

Image caption,
Protests have been held in Benghazi condemning the attack

I live very close to the consulate. I heard some shooting and soon afterwards I saw people running away from the embassy.

I am very sad about what happened. We liked the ambassador very much; he was here to help us.

It's a very bad film and I understand if people want to protest, but there's no need to kill. We must also understand that the authorities in the US can't do anything to stop individuals creating such films.

Most people here are against these kind of attacks. There were protests going on today - my son was there. They were not against the film, but against the violent reaction to it.

I am very worried about these hard-line religious groups whose ideas are quite different from the majority of the population.

We Libyans like foreigners very much and love welcoming foreign guests to our houses. We don't like to be told how to practice our religion. We don't want anything to be forced on us!

Salem, former rebel, Tripoli

When I heard about the attack on the US consulate, I got very angry.

This is against our religion and customs. The ambassador is our guest, he should have been protected. There is no excuse for killing him.

We have a serious security problem in this country and that's because we have a weak government. There are wrong people in position of power, who cannot deal with the armed militant groups.

I am not scared of the Salafists: The worst they can do is destroy shrines and make a lot of noise.

The real danger for the country comes from groups related to al-Qaeda. They are ready to do anything - fight the government and kill people.

I was part of the rebels during the war. I still have my gun and everyone from the group kept their weapons. There is more than one warehouse full of weapons under our control.

We are waiting for the day when we have a real government - then we will hand over everything to the military.

But until that day comes - we are keeping our weapons!

Interviews by Krassimira Twigg