Benghazi children witness horrors of war
By Asmaa Elourfi for Magharebia in Benghazi – 25/03/11
As war rages between Libyan revolutionaries and forces loyal to Moamer Kadhafi, the children of the country are struggling to cope with the violence. At an art studio in Benghazi, Magharebia met children expressing their feelings and views of the conflict through simple drawings.
"We've noticed a change in children's imagination," said Omar Ahmed al-Abbar, director of Tiba al-Menawara School and a member of the committee supervising the art studio. "A child drew Moamer going into a tank and shelling a mosque, as compared to children's drawings in the past, which were restricted to either flowers or toys. The war has had an impact on children."
"The children's studio starts at 10:00 AM and comes to an end at 5:00 PM every day," al-Abbar said. "This is a suitable time to keep the children and give them the chance to express their imagination through drawing. We provide them with colours and pencils."
In his turn, educational inspector Saeed Mohammed said that he came up with the idea of a children's art studio "so that children may express their inner feelings and to prove to the world that we're not backward barbarians; rather, we're a civilised society with refined thinking contrary what Kadhafi is saying about us that we're rats."
"We've seen the trends of children without any guidance from us. These are spontaneous, innocent expressions showing peace," Mohammed said.
"It's unfortunate that these young children would draw wars and spilled blood," he added. "Children express what's inside them very simply. We will collect these drawings to hold a children's exhibition and we'll nominate the best expressive drawing." Sixth grader Ghada Ali said that she drew "a complex picture showing Moamer Kadhafi as having octopus arms, with hyena teeth and he himself was a monkey. The second is a ship at port symbolising free Libya after the suffering that we're living is over."
"The third drawing, which I gave the name 'Libya is in our eyes,' is in the form of an eye with the independence flag inside it," Ghada explained.
She added: "I would like to read this statement in the name of Libyan children. In it, we say: 'In the name of God, most gracious, most merciful. We the February 17th children salute all those who stand by our side in demanding our legitimate rights and realising our dreams. We want to grow up and live under a new regime full of peace and security. We ask all world countries to stand by our side in fighting this tyrant, and we as children tell him that 'depart' means 'go away.' The Libyan children have become fed up.'"
The statement continued, "We also want to salute France that took the initiative and stood by our side against this oppressor and recognised the transitional national council."
Magharebia then spoke to a little girl drawing with her friend. "I'm drawing a picture of Kadhafi and his sons while escaping from Libya with a lot of money, leaving behind Libya and its people facing a lot of explosions and fires," she said.
Seven-year-old Omayma Massoud was drawing a picture of a child, "killed in Kadhafi's battalion's bombardment". "They have killed innocent children," she said.
"I'm drawing Libya's emblem, the independence flag, with a leg kicking Moamer Kadhafi out of Libya," Abdul Salam said.
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