Why Qaddafi can no longer terrorize Libyans
While Qaddafi is trying to retake cities held by the opposition, the stunning shift in mood in 'liberated' Libya has unleashed a new sense of freedom – and the courage to defend it.
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In the lobby later, one of the older men explains the pins. “The youth showed us something was possible that we only dreamed about,” he says. “This is their revolution.”Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Libya uprising
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Cartoon consigns Qaddafi to dustbin of history
Across Benghazi, the changes – that began with peaceful protests against Qaddafi, but escalated into a full-scale armed rebellion – are stunning. The town shrine to Qaddafi’s hated “green book,” which underscored his one-man rule, is a burned out hulk.
Qaddafi’s ubiquitous picture has been pulled down everywhere, and carpets with his likeness have been placed outside some buildings to be trampled on.
At the central courthouse that’s serving as revolutionary headquarters here, there’s a poster-board cartoon of former Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, his wife, Laila, and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak Hosni Mubarak trying to get into a garbage can marked "history." A manic-haired Qaddafi lurks in the background saying, “Wait for me!”
This a city now covered in anti-Qaddafi graffiti and cartoons. There is the ever-popular “game over” from youths raised on video games; cartoons equating Qaddafi to the state of Israel and Hitler (both symbols of repression to Libyans); and drawings of him as a vampire and as a Krusty the Clown-type buffoon.
All that would have earned jail, or worse, just a few short weeks ago. On a ride across town with a group of middle-aged revolutionary volunteers, the previously banned song “We will stay here” comes on the radio. It’s immediately cranked all the way up, the whole car singing along and flashing V signs to the other cars, who are likewise tuned to the “Voice of Free Libya,” the first uncensored radio station here in decades.
It was written in 2002 by Adel el-Mushaidi, a medical student who spent three years in jail in the 1990s for speaking out against Qaddafi. The patriotic song was soon banned from the airwaves, and is now a favorite among protesters downtown waiting for the fall of Tripoli.
“It’s all about love of country and identifying with the people’s suffering,” says Najla Elmangoush. “It doesn’t mention Qaddafi at all, and he hated this. He wanted to be the symbol of all good things in Libya. That kind of patriotism was threatening to him.”