BENGHAZI HOTEL (Egypt, 2012)

It has been six months since the death of ‘The Colonel’ and the end of the Gaddafi regime. Although this initially brought joy to the Libyan people, now, the stir of emotions has mostly died down. Like many wars, it was dirty and unjust, and too many innocents paid a price.

I spent several weeks in a hotel in downtown Cairo, photographing and meeting with Libyans who had personally experienced the attacks on Benghazi. It was by the side of a swimming pool that I discovered the proximity of war for the first time. In this Egyptian hotel I learned that war doesn’t end on a battle field when the winners are declared, the end of war is for many only the beginning. The beginning of a new life haunted by the memory of a traumatic experience. The Libyans I met were children, rebel fighters and civilians. These so -called ‘rebel fighters’ had become soldiers overnight. From one day to the next, they left their jobs as hairdressers, school teachers and doctors; and students left their books, to join in arms and to fight on a battlefield. For most of them, this was the first time they held a weapon. After the war, the Libyan national transitional government compensated the injured by paying their expenses to receive treatments for their wounds from medical institutions abroad. I stumbled by chance upon one of these groups in a hotel in downtown Cairo.

Although the war took place on the other side of the desert, and it seemed to be over. A part of it persisted. This was no longer an ordinary hotel. This was Benghazi Hotel.

( Full series 25–30 photographs)

Poolside #1. Cairo, Egypt, spring 2012.
Ramadan with prayer beads. Cairo, Egypt, spring 2012.
“A man died in my video” / pumpkin seeds. Cairo, Egypt, spring 2012.
“We’re all from Benghazi.” Cairo, Egypt, spring 2012.
Poolside #2 (Moustafa). Cairo, Egypt, spring 2012.
Moustafa’s hotel room. Cairo, Egypt, spring 2012.

All photographs ©Marwan Bassiouni 2018