News / Africa

    On Tripoli Streets: the Gadhafi Mystique is Broken

    Libyan rebels use a carpet with the image of Moammar Gadhafi as a doormat at their camp, set up in a district of Gadhafi sympathizers in the stronghold city of Tarhouna, 100 kilometers southeast of Tripoli, Libya, August 29, 2011
    Libyan rebels use a carpet with the image of Moammar Gadhafi as a doormat at their camp, set up in a district of Gadhafi sympathizers in the stronghold city of Tarhouna, 100 kilometers southeast of Tripoli, Libya, August 29, 2011
    James Brooke

    Where is Moammar Gadhafi? His second wife and two sons surfaced Monday in neighboring Algeria. But people in Libya’s capital say their leader of 42 years is yesterday’s man.

    For 42 years, Green Square was the stage set for Moammar Gadhafi’s speeches against enemies all around Libya.

    Today, it is called Martyrs’ Square, in honor of fighters who died to break his grip on Libya.

    Instead of banners hailing the “King of Kings,” graffiti now reads “Finito,” and “Game Over.”

    A big new sign implores rebels to stop celebrating by shooting their guns into the air.

    Khalil Salem Melad Almosrat, a 56-year-old pensioner, pauses from cleaning up the litter of bullet casings. An army veteran of Gadhafi’s wars in Chad, he said that after all the warlike speeches, the Libyan leader proved to be a coward.

    Almosrat said that Gadhafi told the world “he was a mujahedeen, a Bedouin, that he would fight until the last bullet. When the fight came to him, he just ran away.”

    He believes that Gadhafi may have escaped into the Sahara, possibly southern Algeria. On Monday evening, Algeria’s foreign ministry reported that Gadhafi’s second wife and two of his sons had entered Algeria.

    Almosrat, the war veteran, is surprised when asked if Gadhafi's family will ever return to rule Libya. In Arabic, he responds: "Impossible, impossible, impossible."

    Nearby, Khaled Abid, a 35-year-old government manager, stands in the shade of an arcade facing the sun-baked square.

    For him, Gadhafi is yesterday’s man. Asked what are the chances that Gadhafi's clan will return to rule Libya, he replied, “Not even ‘minus one percent.”

    Ten steps away, the National Commercial Bank is re-opening for business with a new doormat - the bank’s former lobby portrait of  Gadhafi.

    One customer spits on the portrait. Another pauses to ostentatiously wipe his feet on the image of the fallen leader. A third, an elderly man, dances a little jig, then takes off a shoe, then repeatedly hammers Gadhafi in the face with his loafer.

    Inside the building, Hussein Kharaka, a bank executive, catches up with colleagues in their first day back at work since revolution turned Tripoli upside down 10 days ago.

    He is optimistic about Libya’s future, believing that banks now will be run along international lines, and that Libya will have good relations with Europe and the United States.

    Asked about the man who once called himself, “The King of African Kings,” work colleagues listen as Kharaka responds in Arabic, “He is in one of his holes, he is a coward; he can’t even face people.”

    On the way back to the hotel, the driver plays a CD with Libya’s new provisional anthem. There are taxis on the streets. Banks are open. Shops are open. Some of the Gadhafis in Algeria. Across Tripoli, it is clear the Gadhafi mystique is broken.

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Holds Biggest Political Meeting in 36 Years

    Workers' Party Congress set for Friday; Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora