Bikers in Benghazi rev up motors to showcase their war-scarred country


Members of Libyan motorcycle clubs recently revved up their motors in Benghazi to show the world another side to their country. — AFP

Bikers of Libya’s Mediterranean city of Benghazi, the cradle of its 2011 revolution and a one-time Islamist bastion, rev up their motors to show another side to their war-scarred country.

In a cocktail of gleaming chrome and rumbling engines, dozens of heavy-duty motorbike enthusiasts in their leathers tear up the asphalt in regular parades through the streets of the wind-strewn city.

The convoy of Harley Davidsons, Hondas and Kawasa-kis emerges from the headquarters of the Benghazi Motorcycles Club.

For the club’s members, biking is not only a passion, it’s also a way of portraying the city in a different light – a semblance of normality despite Libya’s pervasive divisions and violence.

“There are those who fight, and there are those who have a passion, ” the club’s proud president Ahmed al-Fitouri says from behind a thick beard and long hair.

“We’ve had French and British crews film us, and we’ve shown them that not all Libyans make war, they’re not all criminals, ” he says.

Two by two, the bikers parade through Benghazi’s alleys and main roads, arms perched on the handlebars.

Onlookers watch or film and honking car drivers contribute to the cacophony as they ride past war-battered buildings.

The motorcycle club, which has a Harley Davidson-inspired eagle as its emblem, boasts 120 members and they are “all enthusiasts”, says Fitouri.

It was established in 2014 on the initiative of a group of amateurs, right in the thick of a second battle for control of their city, three years after the fall of Libya’s longtime leader Moamer Kadhafi.

Even at that time of rampant insecurity before Islamist militias were expelled, club members staged public shows.

Before the revolt that put an end to more than four decades of dictatorship, bikers were “marginalised” members of Benghazi society, says Fakhri Mustapha al-Hassi, the club’s vice president.

“But that image has changed, ” says Hassi, a lively character sporting a leather waistcoat and a black bandana.

“Now families and children come to have their picture taken with us.”

Club members also raise funds for charities, stage “parades for peace” and take part in official functions, such as a recent tribute to Omar al-Mokhtar, a hero of Libya’s resistance to Italian occupation in the early 20th century.

During Ramadan, the bikers distributed snacks and drinks to motorists running late for iftar. All this “gives a good image” of the country, club president Fitouri says. – AFP Relaxnews

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3

bikers , Benghazi , Libya , war


Next In Travel

You can buy Scotland’s most remote pub for RM2.47mil
Does fugu sperm wine help men be 'stronger' and celebrate Father's Day?
8 most beautiful buildings you have to see to believe in a post-pandemic future Premium
Malaysian hiker goes to great heights in Everest before 40th birthday
Malaysian learns the secret to cooking good paella is...a 'magical spell'?
Malaysia Airlines passengers can donate their points to charities
‘Adrenaline capital’ Queenstown in NZ braces for pre-pandemic mojo
Malaysian woman goes on a sweet cultural exchange in Telangana, India
Malaysian airlines give good ground service at vaccination centres
Sabahan tour guide honoured for Sandakan-Ranau Death March research

Stories You'll Enjoy