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Hisham Matar Considers Possible Motives Behind Attacks on the US Consulate in Benghazi

Anatomy of a DisappearanceIn the Country of MenAcclaimed Libyan writer Hisham Matar, author of Anatomy of a Disappearance and In the Country of Men, has written an opinion piece for The New Yorker in which he considers the attacks on the United States Consulate in Benghazi, which took place earlier this week, coinciding with the commemoration of the events of 9/11.

Drawing a comparison with Mussolini’s Milan fascio, Matar argues that the target audience of Libya’s far-right groups are the “young and strong”. In order to be seen as not curtailing the livelihood of Libya’s youth, the groups choose “easy targets” of which this latest, an abstract attack on Western symbols, is one:

Were the attacks on the United States Consulate in Benghazi, which killed the American Ambassador and three other diplomats, motivated by the film that the assailants, and many news networks, claim was their motive? Was it really religious outrage that made a few young men lose their heads and commit murder? Have any of the men who attacked the consulate actually seen the film? I do not know one Libyan who has, despite being in close contact with friends and relatives in Benghazi. And the attack was not preceded by vocal outrage toward the film. Libyan Internet sites and Facebook pages were not suddenly busy with chatter about it.

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