Sheikh Ali Al Adiq Asus is an important man in Tripoli. He is actually the most decisive figure in the city's Mansura district, assuming the role of arbitrator in disputes, chief administrator and, in effect, district mayor. It is not that he was elected to carry out these functions, but rather it is because of who he is. The imam is a respected and trusted figure in Mansura, and individuals like him keep public services running in the Libyan capital. There is no state or real administration, but the city still functions.
The police are nowhere to be seen? Instead, militiamen wearing inventive uniforms stand on the streets and wave their arms about. This doesn't improve the situation much, but the city's drivers are serene in their acceptance of the makeshift authorities. The city waste disposal workers have not picked up the rubbish for weeks? Then Sheikh Ali's people get on the job.
Residents of the 17 districts in the capital Tripoli – a city with 1.5 million inhabitants – have been forced to resort to self-help. Walls are plastered with admonitions like "Young people of Libya – respect private and public property!" and "Stop firing into the air! It is dangerous and traumatizes children." Civil society has taken control of the city and, remarkably, much seems to be functioning.
By Werner D'Inka; Translated by John Bergeron
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