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Libyan Graffiti Shows New Found Freedom

  • Elizabeth Arrott
  • James Brooke

Graffiti in Tripoli, Libya, September 8, 2011 - The rebels tighten their grip.

Graffiti in Tripoli, Libya, September 8, 2011 - The rebels tighten their grip.

It's been more than 40 years since Libyans could express themselves freely, and over the past seven months, they have been making the most of it. Ever since opponents of Moammar Gadhafi took control of much of eastern Libya in February, private media has flourished, from start-up newspapers to foreign-funded radio and television. Now, the former rebels run the state-owned media.

Perhaps the most spontaneous expression of the uprising can be seen on the street, with graffiti covering so many surfaces at some point the new government eventually may have to place some limits. In the meantime, it's a free-for-all, open to anyone with a spray can or a bucket of paint.

There are a lot of political slogans, but for a people who spent most of their lives subjected to the ever-present and usually massive posters of Gadhafi, their former leader has proven the most popular subject. The sheer act of being able to publicly mock a man who tolerated no dissent appears to be irresistible.

VOA's Elizabeth Arrott and James Brooke have documented some of the graffiti of the uprising.

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