Borders Closed as Libya Braces for Anniversary

Many fear violence Islamists will target historic treasures

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 15, 2013 9:59 AM CST

(Newser) – The start of the revolution that led to the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi will be commemorated in Libya on Sunday, and the country is bracing itself for what may come. Bloomberg reports that foreigners have been exiting Libya in anticipation; the borders with Egypt and Tunisia have been closed; and 1,400 roadblocks are being erected. Tensions are running high between militias and Islamists and supporters of the old regime. “Most people have taken the sensible decision, foreigners in particular, not to be around, it could be a celebration or a civil war," said one consultant. And as Bloomberg explains, the nation's infrastructure is crumbling, Islamist militia activity is on the rise, and the east and south are clamoring for more autonomy.

And it's not just people facing danger from the instability. Libya's historical treasures are also under threat, reports another Bloomberg story. UNESCO says five World Heritage Sites are at risk of "deliberate destruction" at Islamists' hands, as are other notable artworks, including the "Naked Lady and Gazelle" fountain by Tripoli's waterfront. "She survived Italians, the German army, British rule, the King, and Gadhafi, just as we did,” said one taxi driver. "We want more beautiful things, not less. We would be angry if the Salafists destroyed her.”

In this Tuesday Feb. 14, 2012 file photo, Libyan militias from towns throughout the country's west parade through Tripoli, Libya. With the two-year anniversary of the overthrown of Moammar Gadhafi coming,...   (AP Photo/ Abdel Magid Al Fergany, File)
A man works on the damaged bronze statue, which has become a target for Islamists who have already taken aim at other shrines in the country.   (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
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