Libya: Some Still Sing for Gaddafi

People take part in a protest at Martyr’s Square in Tripoli, against transforming the country into a federal state 9 March 2012.

New Libyan media outlets broadcast remotely still pledge their allegiance to the former dictator while attacks are carried out in Libya allegedly sponsored by former regime supporters living abroad.

In a few months Libyans will celebrate the second anniversary of the February 17 revolution which brought down Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

There will be an official celebration on Libyan satellite television channels which now number over 30.

No one knows how the event will be marked on two recently launched stations – Al-Wadi (The Valley) and Watanna (Our Homeland) – that broadcast from Cairo.

Initially, Al-Wadi was perceived as an ordinary Libyan channel with no particular sympathy for the country’s former dictator.

However, at the beginning of Ramadan, pro-Gaddafi presenters – who had fled to Egypt when the opposition stormed Tripoli – began to appear on its screen.

The most notable were Widyan and Ashraf al-Sherif, who took the opportunity to heap abuse on the revolutionaries.

Widyan was captured by rebel forces when they entered the Libyan capital, but she was released, fleeing to Tunisia and then to Egypt.

There, she met some of the former regime’s supporters and set up a television station with them, sponsored by Libyan businessmen from Bani Walid who were close to Gaddafi.

On the last night of Ramadan, Widyan appeared on screen with Ashraf Sherif. Behind them was a large map of the Jamahiriyya, the Gaddafi-inspired political system imposed on Libya.

They discussed Eid al-Fitr rituals in every city. When it came to Tripoli, Widyan pointed her finger at Omar al-Mukhtar Street in the capital. She then repeated this bizarre gesture.

The next day, on the first morning of Eid, the capital woke up to two car bombs in the very same street.

A clip of her gesture then made the rounds on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, where the majority of users took it to be a clear reference to the explosions.

This angered Libyans, who demonstrated in front of the Egyptian embassy, demanding that the Egyptian ambassador intervene to shut down these stations.

Then, when the perpetrators of the explosions were captured, they confessed that they were backed by Gaddafi supporters currently living in Cairo.

Libyan Prime Minister Abdul-Rahim al-Keib later travelled to Cairo and requested that the station be closed. Sure enough, the Egyptian authorities obliged.

The people behind the project did not, however, give up. Al-Wadi was soon re-launched on the internet, playing pro-Gaddafi songs and promising to be back on Nilesat – a television satellite company that covers the Arab world – with five channels and huge financial capabilities.

Watanna continues to call for people to turn against the new Libyan government and to raise the green flag of the Jamahiriyya.

Nilesat’s management has declared that the stations were now broadcasting by way of another satellite company, Noursat, which they cannot control.



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