Sunday 27 February 2011

Down at the Libyan Embassy.

On Friday, I joined the protests down at the Libyan embassy, hoping desperately that I would be there on the day Gaddafi fell. There were reports circulating through the crowds that 20,000 people were approaching the centre of Tripoli, and everyone was hopeful.

But there were clear signs that the struggle for freedom in Libya will be a long and bloody one. Firstly, the Libyan embassy was clearly back in the hands of supporters of the regime. The pre-Gaddafi flag, which had been triumphantly flown from the embassy flagpole two days before, had been torn down and replaced with the pro-Gaddafi flag once more.

The crowds outside the embassy were segregated as well. A small group of very vocal Islamists shouted and chanted into a noisy sound system. They were calling for an Islamic revolution, perhaps more like the Iranian revolution - they were demanding Shariah Law, and denounced democracy.

A much more hopeful sign was the much bigger crowd of demonstrators calling for freedom and human rights in Libya. They held aloft a huge banner which said 'Shame on those who sell weapons to the dictators,' a clear response to Cameron's recent tour with BAE systems to the Middle East.

I spoke to many in the crowd, and all were determined that though this journey may take longer than Egypt and Tunisia, Libya was on a path to change, and there was no going back to the days when Gaddafi acted as a feared 'God and father' of the nation.

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