Joy, grief and hope at Libyan Muslims’ Eid feast of sacrifice

November 6, 2011

(People select sheep, ahead of the Eid al-Adha feast, in the outskirts of Sirte November 5, 2011. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal(

Joy was tinged by past sadness, hope mingled with anxiety for the future as Libyans thronged their mosques at dawn Sunday to celebrate one of the great festivals of the Muslim year, Eid al-Adha, or the feast of sacrifice.

Nowhere was the emotion and religious symbolism more acute than in Misrata. The city suffered heavy losses resisting a siege by the army of Muammar Gaddafi. Local forces, which took credit for last month’s capture of the ousted strongman that ended in his death, are pushing for a big say in the new Libya.

Men streamed away from dawn prayers at the imposing mosque in Misrata’s Zorugh neighborhood, preparing to feast on sheep slaughtered in a ritual inspired by Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God.

They spoke of the special savour of a first Eid free of Gaddafi’s personal rule, of embracing a new democracy but also of sorrow for loved ones killed in the war.

“We are happy,” said Mohammed Bashir, a 40-year-old merchant in the prosperous suburb as he exchanged handshakes with friends and neighbors, all dressed in fresh robes and new clothes for Eid. “But we are crying for our children we lost in the war.”

“This Eid is different — we killed Gaddafi,” laughed Ali Sheikh, 86, his English spiced with a rich Texan drawl acquired

over decades working for American firms drilling for Libyan oil.

“Now we’re all going home to kill our lambs.

“It’s gonna be OK. We can fix this country real fast.”

Read the full story here.


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