Photo tweeted by @2011feb17, with the caption: "Nice to see revolutionary graffiti without it being painted over by [Gaddafi's] goons."
Residents of Tripoli are slowly starting to get used to life without Colonel Gaddafi. Nearly a month after the capital fell to anti-Gaddafi forces, street vendors have re-opened their shops, garbage men are once again cleaning the streets, and all over the city, the tricolour flag of independence flies high. Our Observer in Tripoli tells us how life has changed for the capital’s residents.
Since the National Transitional Council took control of the capital in late August, it has been recognized by most of the world as Libya’s legitimate leadership. However, Libyan power structures remain fractured. Different groups are rushing to take credit for liberating Tripoli in order to secure their place in the country’s future government. Despite these uncertainties, our Observer tells us he finds life in Libya much more pleasant than it was under Gaddafi.
As an anti-Gaddafi online activist, @2011feb17 prefers to keep using a pseudonym, for fear of retribution by remaining Gaddafi loyalists. FRANCE 24 first interviewed him a month ago, when Tripoli was still under Gaddafi’s rule; at the time, he travelled for miles to email answers to our questions. Now, he’s able to tweet dozens of times a day.
Garbage collection resumes in Tripoli. @2007feb17, who took this photo, says: "Black foreign workers are working hard, and we respect them for that." Many black immigrants have fled Libya, fearing they might be the target of reprisals because Gaddafi hired black mercenaries to fight anti-regime protesters.
“People continue to celebrate every night. The difference now is they do it of their own free will”
People here in Tripoli are now able to express themselves freely. They still cannot quite believe it. I was in a shop the other day when I heard one person say to another: ‘Pinch me,’ as he pointed to a badge of the independence flag, proudly displayed on his chest. ‘Can you believe I am wearing this in public, when a few weeks ago I could have been shot on the spot?’ Indeed, before August 20, you could get killed for having the red, black and green flag in your house. Just like that.
Photo tweeted by @2011feb17 with the caption: "Nice classic car painted independence colors."
Life has changed enormously since the fall of Tripoli. There are no more shortages of food and drinking water, no more lines at the gas station. The electricity seldom goes off. Banks have started to open. We hear about a few robberies here and there, but no more than before the uprising began. We all thought there would be lots of looting, but luckily, it’s quite calm. The Freedom Fighters patrol the streets, which gives a needed sense of security.
People continue to go celebrate in Martyr’s Square every night. The difference now is that they go there of their own will. No one is forced or bribed to go celebrate. Once it was clear Tripoli was free, I went public about my activism, but on a small, local scale. [Throughout the uprising, @2001feb17 tweeted information and photographs from inside Tripoli]. I am still not comfortable revealing what I did on a larger scale. Some of the friends and neighbours I revealed my secret to told me they suspected I was active on the Internet all along. That gave me goose bumps. I did what I did because it was the right thing to do, but seeing people appreciate my risky efforts made it even more worthwile.
Photo tweeted by @2011feb17 with the caption: "Gaddafi's slippers? Found it near his house entrance in Bab al-Aziziya [Gaddafi's former headquarters]."
“We Libyans are now like a child on his birthday, about to open the presents”
Our main problem now is that Gaddafi and his unstable, dangerous son Saif are still at large. Think of it this way: a serial killer is out there, you know who he is, what he looks like, what kind of weapons he uses, but you don’t know where he is or when he’s going to strike. Not to mention that he still has accomplices, the last die-hard Gaddafi supporters. We fear they could hurt innocent civilians because they are so brainwashed and deluded that they still think there is a chance Gaddafi could return to power.
I am furious to hear people back-stabbing Dr. Jibril after all the good he has done. [Mahmoud Jibril is Libya’s interim prime minister. He has been criticized by Islamic scholars as being too secular, even though the NTC plans to use Islamic law as Libya's principal source of legislation.] I understand that it is healthy to constantly criticize a government in order to help shape its policies, but it could turn dangerous and deadly if this is done at the wrong time. Right now is the wrong time. Gaddafi is still on the loose.
Photo tweeted by @2011feb17, with the caption: "My car hit by a falling celebratory bullet. Glad it skipped the windshield... and my head!"
It is still too early to imagine where all this will go. I might be too optimistic, but when I look at people’s faces when they describe the voting process they have been eagerly awaiting for 42 years, I just know it’s going to happen. I am 45 years old and have never touched a ballot. We Libyans are now like a child whose birthday party is nearly over, and is about to open his presents. We don’t know what’s under the wrapping paper, but we are rubbing our hands in glee, expecting to find something we will really like.”
Photos tweeted by @2011feb17, with the caption: "Kids found use for empty bullet casings collected from Bab al-Aziziya [Gaddafi's former headquarters]. That's recycling."