Celebrating Gaddafi’s Death...in Every Household and Every Alley

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Women celebrate the passing of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after Friday prayers at Martyrs' Square in Tripoli, 21 October 2011. (Photo: REUTERS - Suhaib Salem)

By: Tarek Abd al-Hayy

Published Friday, October 21, 2011

The people of Tripoli danced Thursday in Martyr’s Square - where anti-Gaddafi rallies were once held - to celebrate the dictator's killing and the end of his family’s reign. Al-Akhbar traced the day’s developments as they unfolded.

It was 10:00am in Tripoli, at Martyrs’ Square – formerly Green Square. It was here only months ago that thousands of Tripoli residents were forced under threat by Gaddafi’s popular committees to gather together, carrying green flags and pictures of Africa’s “king of kings.” In the square, the late leader gave some of his final public speeches. Ironically, he had called upon the Libyan people to dance, sing, be joyful, and chase away the “vermin,” i.e., those rebelling against his rule. Gaddafi delivered his last speech here on the eve of the fall of Tripoli. After that, people would sarcastically repeat his words: “revolution, revolution...onwards...onwards.”

Life in Tripoli seemed normal this morning. People went to work, took walks around public squares, and drove around with caravans of fighters. Initial news announcing that Sirte was taken by the rebels passed with little fanfare. Suspense grew, however, when information emerged that an important figure was captured. People rushed to the cafes to see what was happening on satellite news channels.

There was a sense of anticipation, everyone wanted to know who this important figure was and the guessing game began. Some suggested it was Abdullah al-Sanousi, others say it may have been one of Gaddafi’s sons, Mutassim or Saif al-Islam. Few ventured to guess that it was the leader himself. Then conflicting reports started to steam in, some announcing his capture, some that he had been killed, and others, still, confirming that he was on his way to either Tripoli or Misrata. Despite this, the crowd in the square began to swell. Libyan flags fluttering overhead and chants of freedom and “God is great” ringing out everywhere.

At one point, the news was finally confirmed – Gaddafi had been captured by the rebels, but it was unclear whether he was dead or alive. At that point, it was almost impossible to get to the square because of the size of crowds streaming into it. On one side of the square stood a podium with “Free Libya and the February 17 Revolution” written on it. Many people stand guard on the podium apparently charged with protecting the square. No one is firing into the air yet, but dozens of cars are driving around the capital causing a traffic jam.

Head of the military council, Abdel Hakim Belhaj appeared on Al Jazeera and confirmed Gaddafi’s death. The “king of king’s” was apparently found hiding in a drainage tunnel. Chants of “God is great” rang out from the city’s minarets, as the capital’s residents took to the streets to celebrate the end of 42 years of tyrannical rule.

A hotel worker was in shock and stared at the TV screen as he yelled: “I don’t believe my eyes. It’s over, it’s over... God is great. Come and see! It’s him,” pointing to Gaddafi’s picture on TV.

The news reports kept coming in. Defense Minister Abu Bakr Younis also met his end. A little while later, Mutassim Gaddafi was confirmed dead. The celebrations continued. Many people raised pictures of the revolution’s martyrs, victims of the fallen regime. Some raised Islamist banners, while others kneeled to thank God. There were even calls for other dictators to follow, especially in Yemen and Syria. Even in the midst of these celebrations, one could plainly see a strong security presence in the streets and squares of the capital.

In Misrata, the atmosphere was even more festive. It was rebels from this city who managed to capture Gaddafi. The celebrations there culminated with the arrival of Gaddafi’s corpse to the city hospital. Festivities were also underway in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, where the revolution began.

Despite the ecstatic mood, Libyans had already started to think about the post-Gaddafi period. A young man named Muhammad said, “Now we have to think about the future of Libya. We’ve waisted plenty of time, it’s enough.” He added, “I hope the political forces will reach an agreement soon regarding the future of Libya.” There is fear that a power struggle might break out among the tribes or between the different regions. Already, there seems to be some tensions within the National Transitional Council (NTC) between liberals and Islamists.

Afaf, a school teacher, was more optimistic. She said, “Libyans are very hopeful about the future. There is a sense of relief but also impatience. The future will definitely be better.” She added, “There is a sense of freedom. Everyone criticizes everyone else, it’s normal to have differences.”

But everyone agreed that this night would be worth a thousand nights. It would be the night the NTC officially announces the full liberation of the country. And thus, Libya will turn over a long page of despotic rule and open a new one that still full of challenges.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

in "Every Household"? yes, sure. Esp. the in Every Household of victims of NATO and their local lackeys. Murdered, tortured, robbed, ethnic cleansed...

Have we not heard about "celebrations" after the Saddam was toppled? Some celebrations.

"Everyone criticizes everyone else, it’s normal to have differences.”

But everyone agreed that this night would be worth a thousand nights"

So, the "everyone" is free to cheer for NATO/contras murderers? What a brave new world, in which everyone has to be happy with NATO colonial war!

I wonder, where the author spent the last 25 years. Was he asleep?

It`s not up to me to interfere in Libya. But if the Dictators had done a better job regarding true Progress like Industrialization, true Education and so on like china did for example, there would be no "revolutions" at all. Its not only being a Dictator and corrupt. Its about loss off arab dignity and failures all over the place over decades.

It is NOT about dictators at all, it is about USA-non-friendly ones ( not only dictators as well, see Iran or Chile). Saudis are prised daily by the same persons who curse Qaddafi. And if China is still NOT directly attacked by USA it is only because it is too big to ruin it as easy as Libya. And since when "arab dignity" means being a cannon folder for NATO?

Chaves is called "dictator" all the times by USA rulers.

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