Magharebia (Washington DC)

9 December 2013

Libya: Benghazi Mourns Slain American Teacher

Photo: Mohammed El Shaiky/Xinhua
Libyan cities have seen increased lawlessness since the toppling of former president Muammar Gaddaffi.

Tripoli — A young American teacher was gunned downed Thursday morning (December 5th) while out for a jog in Benghazi's al-Fwihet neighbourhood.

Ronald Smith, a 33-year-old Texas native, taught chemistry at the International School of Benghazi. The school is a Libyan-owned institute that follows an American curriculum open to Libyans as well as to all other nationalities residing in Benghazi, according to Joint Security Room spokesman Ibrahim al-Shara.

"Ronald was very much loved by his neighbours, students, and the school," Adel al-Mansouri, director of the international school, told Magharebia.

Al-Mansouri said that everyone in Benghazi regretted what happened. "We are very saddened by his death and we hope that Benghazi doesn't spiral into a dangerous slippery slope. We look to a thorough investigation into his death and the death of others as well and to uncover the motive of the crime," he said.

Al-Mansouri mentioned how pleased the American teacher was with his stay in Benghazi, choosing to spend his time off in the city.

"He was not the subject of any threat, spent his vacation in Benghazi, and felt safe and comfortable. He has been with us for 13 months, and would have continued for years for students, the school, and his neighbourhood loved him very much," he said.

The director added that despite the advice to foreigners to depart Libya and Benghazi in particular, he did not think that foreigners were the target of intentional killings. "Foreigners are very cautious, still the sense of security is what killed the beloved teacher," he continued.

"I call on the government and the General National Congress and the competent security authorities to start proper procedures to get the culprits in this case and in all previous ones and not just a red herring," he noted.

"We spoke to most foreigners working at the school and the majority of them are going to continue working," he said.

Media commentator Yusuf Mohamed from Tripoli said, "I think that true Muslims not those who just raise slogans, know the sanctity of life and how important the protection of foreigners is."

Laila Safrani, a 52-year-old Tripoli resident said, "I do not think that the instinct of killing made them murder a teacher who was educating our children and supporting students in their learning."

"They are sick people who need treatment and punishment as well in order to deter others," Safrani added.

For his part, 26-year-old Benghazi resident Ibrahim al-Hanbouli said that security was "still deteriorating and regardless of the fact that the victim is a foreigner. This is a terrorist act that confirms the fragility of the sovereignty of Libya".

"Where is the government and its security measures in the city of Benghazi?" asked Mohamed Fathi, a university student at the Faculty of Engineering of Tripoli.

"It has been confirmed as a failure since the death of four people, including the American teacher and still no results despite the investigation of the assassination and the killing of more than 120 persons in Benghazi," Fathi said.

Tripoli college student Sara Taher commented, "Why? He was teaching our children. He is a human being like us and has the right to live. Humanity has disappeared from the hearts of these beings."

"We are against killing whatever the nationality of the victim," remarked Samira Tajouri, a sixth grade teacher.

"He was a covenantee in a Muslim country. Did you forget the commandment of the Prophet on covenantees and dhimmis? You pretend to defend Islam by killing innocent people and Islam is innocent of you," she said.

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InFocus

Libyans Mourn Slain American Teacher

Libyan cities have seen increased lawlessness since the toppling of former president Muammar Gaddaffi.

The director of the school where 33-year-old Ronald Smith taught said the American was "very much loved by his neighbours, students, and the school". Read more »