Libya lashes out at demonstrators
Essam Mohamed in Tripoli contributed to this report for Magharebia – 23/02/11
Tripoli was again pounded by air raids on Tuesday night (February 22nd). The sound of gunfire resounded through the Libyan capital, armed mercenaries prowled the streets, and fires raged at police stations, the justice ministry at al-Shuhadaa Square, the People's Committee Hall and the Shaabia headquarters.
In a televised speech earlier in the day, Moamer Kadhafi said he would fight on and die a "martyr".
"Moamer Kadhafi is the leader of the revolution, I am not a president to step down ... This is my country. Moamer is not a president to leave his post. I have not yet ordered the use of force, not yet ordered one bullet to be fired ... when I do, everything will burn," he continued, calling on his supporters to take to the streets and attack protesters.
Tripoli streets were oddly absent of pictures of Kadhafi. They had been torn town and burned by demonstrators or else covered with graffiti denouncing him and his sons.
Before evening, gas stations ran out of benzene and oil derivatives. Bakeries and food shops were packed with people desperate to stock up on available supplies. Magharebia observed large trucks removing goods from some stores.
Many Libyans fasted for God to deliver them from the calamity.
But the outside world is still unable to see the full extent of the crisis. Both Libyan and foreign journalists reportedly cannot send out information because the regime's communications blackout has crippled internet access and blocked social networking websites Facebook and Twitter.
Kadhafi's son Mohammed is the chairman of the telecommunications company in Libya. And the control of telecommunications has created another issue besides getting news out of Libya; citizens must also contend with unsolicited text messages.
The first anonymous SMS said: "To all those who may be seduced to touch any of the four red lines, which include Kadhafi, Islam and the Jamahiriya system." Another message read: "We congratulate the well-informed young people who understood that fitna means destruction of their families, city and country."
To this same end, a third SMS used a Qur'anic phrase: "Hold fast to the rope of Allah all together and do not be divided."
There was a special message for Benghazi: "People and youth of Benghazi, those who died, whether civilians or policemen, are all citizens of Libya. We've had enough. Therefore, let's spare blood."
On Wednesday morning, Libyans received new messages from carriers Al Madar and Libyana. One such message promised money for forwarding a pro-Kadhafi message: "Send it to 10 people and you will get 100 dinars."
Another text message Wednesday said, "The Popular Council asks all citizens in both private and public sectors to go back to their usual business starting today."
Citizens in Tripoli, however, asked where the council was working, since its building was burned and Libyans "have not seen any of its members since the start of this revolution".
Al-Jamahiriya and al-Shababiya television channels also began broadcasting messages claiming that Libya's "enemies are now conspiring against its unity and stability". Another TV message said, "Dear citizens, compare how a few days ago you were enjoying security, stability and good, and look what they have spread around you in terms of sabotage, killing and conspiracy. Therefore, make up your mind and beware their plots."
Libyan officials continued to announce resignations. Following Kadhafi's speech, Interior Minister Abdul-Fatah Younis resigned and voiced support to the uprising, which he described as the "February 17th revolution". According to Aljazeera, a video statement by Younis urged the army to join the people and their "legitimate demands".
Also Tuesday, the UN Security Council issued a statement calling "for an immediate end to the violence and for steps to address the legitimate concerns of the population". UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also called for "an independent international investigation" into the crackdown.
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