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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs