This piece also appeared in the Wessex Scene.
This week, #MyLibya began trending on Twitter when freelance journalist Khadija Ali created the hashtag to encourage thousands to tweet photos or words dedicated to showing a different side of Libya.
21-year-old Ali, who is also a student, tweeted on Tuesday morning:
Since then, more than 2000 have posted inspiring pictures and descriptions of their homeland using #MyLibya.
Despite the overthrow of dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi during the Arab Spring in 2011, Libya remains unstable and governments have struggled to keep control of the North African state. It has experienced continuous political and economic turmoil over the past decade, as armed militias still maintain control of large parts of the country. Libya’s population also face recurring power outages and fuel shortages, due to rebel factions blocking oil pipelines, thereby cutting off a major source of revenue for the nation.
Yet in order to move focus away from these problems and to highlight its more positive aspects, Libyans and non-Libyans based at home and abroad used #MyLibya to celebrate their traditions and culture, sparking an online phenomenon over the course of one day.
Here’s a selection of some of the most popular tweets:
— Amena (@Sherm_Ame) June 10, 2014
— James Wheeler (@wheelertweets) June 10, 2014
— L (@Leptis_B86) June 11, 2014
— Hilana Ali (@Hilanaak) June 10, 2014
— Khadija Ali (@KhadijaMAli) June 10, 2014
— Rawad (@LibyanP) June 10, 2014
Everything from Libyan food to its landscapes were exhibited through the tweets, while photos of Mediterranean sunsets and high-flying flags were also a key motif of #MyLibya.
It is clear to see that many were keen to counteract negative portrayals of Libya found in the likes of mainstream media. The tweets were also a small window into the day-to-day lives of Libyans, many of whom maintain a sense of optimism and appreciation for their country in spite of its struggles.