Women-friendly cafe in Benghazi bombed
By Maha Ellawati.
The remains of the Rotana Cafe after the explosion this morning. The cafe had been very popular with women and families, for whom the upstairs section was reserved
Benghazi, 2 November 2013:
A Benghazi cafe popular with women and families was bombed at around 7am this morning. There were no casualties in the explosion but much of the Rotana Cafe, in the Hadaiq district of Benghazi, was destroyed.
The owner had reportedly previously received threats relating to the cafe catering for women. Families and female customers were seated and served in a separate section upstairs, while the downstairs part of the cafe was reserved for men only.
Apparently in response to the threats, the owner temporarily closed the upstairs section and told customers that it was undergoing renovation work. Local people are convinced, however, that the cafe was still targeted for being women-friendly.
One customer said that the Rotana was one of the most popular cafes in Benghazi for women and children. “I am very upset,” she said, “It was a special place.” She added that she liked to go there because it was “cosy and classy and was a good, safe place,” pointing out that it was one of the few cafes women could go where they were not hassled by men.
“The people who blew up the cafe want to take away all the good modern things from us,” she said. “They want to take us back into the past and leave us with nothing.”
Nearby residents were also furious. One family with a young baby described how they were woken up by the massive blast which shook the house and shattered all the crockery in their kitchen.
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