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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid