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#IamTawfik: Grieving Civil Society Initiates Campaign

THE LEVANT – By Ayat Mneina – Grieving friends and admirers of Tawfik Bensaud and Sami El-Kawafi have started a social media campaign in their names less than a week after their assassinations.  This is the first time the vicious operation against Benghazi and Derna-which has previously targeted Libyan military figures, judges, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and women- has added a new profile targeting youth.  At only 18 and 19 years old, Tawfik and Sami were young, vibrant members of Libya’s civil society who shared ideals and principles for a free and progressive Libya and spoke out against the increasingly dangerous conditions in their city and country.

In an effort to counter these attacks, Libyan youth and civil society refuse to be silenced.  Naming the campaign I am Tawfik, and repeating the names of the victims of assassinations, campaign organizers are choosing to collectively confront those who wish to silence them.

Participating in the campaign is simple, snap a picture of yourself holding a sign bearing the #IamTawfik (similarily, #IamSami, #IamSalwa) hashtag and send it in to their Facebook Page.  Collected photos will be used to create a banner that will be carried in Libya’s largest squares, sending a strong message to the various forces responsible for the ongoing intimidation, threats, physical assaults, abductions, and assassinations: we will not back down.

Inspired by their fallen comrades, organizers of the campaign say that they look to Tawfik and Sami, wondering what they might do in their shoes, how they would react in these circumstances.  Organizers and participants agree unanimously that Tawfik, Sami, Salwa, Abdulsalam, Fariha, Muftah and the countless others who we’ve lost would urge us to carry their work forward, continue to fight for a free and just Libya, to continue to advocate for democracy and continue objecting to the impunity with which these criminals operate.

Organizers urge participants to be defiant and resilient in their photos, noticing the grief stricken faces of those who’ve already sent in their photos: “I wish for you to be as Tawfik would have wanted, smile! Raise your head high and be confident! Look at all Tawfik’s pictures, always smiling! Be proud that you had a friend like Tawfik.”

To send in a picture, visit the Facebook Page here and attach it in a message.  Alternatively, feel free to tweet us your submissions to @LYVOICES or @ShababLibya, use the hashtag #IAmTawfik (and any others you wish to use to express yourselves), and invite your families and friends to participate.

Collectively, we will overcome these difficult times and build the Libya that Tawfik, Sami, and Salwa dreamed of.  To give up now would be to give up on them, we urge you all to help us make this campaign a success and show the world that we will not stand for the ongoing chaos and terror that has gripped our country for too long.

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