Stepping on Gadhafi's face
A man steps on rug placed outside government building in Tripoli, Libya in Sept 2011. It was put there deliberately to insult Gadhafi's image. Source: CNN/Jill Dougherty
September 10th, 2011
10:16 AM ET

Stepping on Gadhafi's face

By CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty

It’s been almost three weeks since anti-Gadhafi forces captured Tripoli - but don’t tell that to the young people hanging out of car windows, clutching the black, red and green Libyan rebel flag, honking horns, chanting, laughing and singing in a stream of slow-moving traffic clogging the Corniche, the road that winds along the waterfront in the Libyan capital.

It’s almost midnight and red tracer bullets streak into the sky illuminated by a full moon. Young men with black, red and green headbands fire Kalashnikovs into the air. Down the esplanade, anti-aircraft guns let loose. The cacophony is deafening.

Stray bullets have killed some residents of the capital. In the hotel that houses most of the foreign media, the Radisson, a shell dropping from the sky injured a local journalist. But the celebrating doesn’t stop.

A cottage industry is fast at work, Libyans sewing their new flag - actually the pre-Gadhafi banner - at home, hanging it everywhere: from the minarets of mosques, from corner grocery stores, down the side of tall buildings in the capital. Entrepreneurial Tunisians just over the border are manufacturing armbands, necklaces and other branded paraphernalia and shipping it in to sell to eager Libyans, some of whom have supported the revolution from the beginning, others who are quickly seeing the wisdom of jumping on the winning team.

At the ubiquitous highway and road rebel checkpoints guarded by young men with guns, sunglasses and a lot of swagger, scowls melt when they see foreign media, replaced by v-for-victory hand signs and happy shouts of “Welcome to Free Libya!”

The man who ruled this country for 42 years, Moammar Gadhafi, still is in hiding and two sons, Saif al-Islam and Saadi, remain at large. Rebel troops assail one of the last loyalist strongholds, Bani Walid, where Saif is believed to be hiding.

Yet, incredibly, it seems not to matter right now, at least in the capital and in rebel-held cities and towns. People can talk freely, express whatever political views they have. Invaiably, these days, they claim to support the revolution. Gadhafi insiders who conducted themselves with impunity, assured of their superiority over average Libyans without connections, are out of power. Look in the eyes of many people and you’ll see it:  euphoric incredulity as they try to comprehend how quickly the regime crumbled.

The National Transitional Council, the anti-Gadhafi forces’ political wing, still must create an interim government and hold new elections. Already there is political infighting. Creating political structures in a country where politics was dominated by the will of one man will be the greatest test of these new leaders.

No matter where you go in Tripoli, you see it right outside at the entrance to almost any building:  a rug, a picture, a poster with the face of Moammar Gadhafi placed strategically on the floor so that you are forced to step on it when you enter, each step gradually erasing the memory of the man many Libyans thought would rule their country forever.

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Donald Burgess

    Hey folks, Will be the U.S. far better off staying with Syria's Assad?

    December 14, 2011 at 3:33 am | Reply
  2. John

    your blog is really delightful

    October 11, 2011 at 7:45 am | Reply
  3. Edafe

    JESUS IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOREVER. HE EXIST AND HE IS ALIVE. WHO SO EVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHALL NOT PERISH, BUT WILL HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE. WOE TO UNBELIEVERS OF CHRIST!!!

    September 13, 2011 at 9:12 am | Reply
    • Logicality

      There is no God and Jesus was only a man. Step into reality. What else do people believe in that is 2000 years old. Nothing

      September 13, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Reply
  4. Carmen

    I want to congratulate to NATO and our Goverment for helping Libia to became an Islamist State where Sharia will be the Law, they can be very happy with the future stoning of women, hanging, marriage between little girls and men.
    Non muslims will be prosecuted and killed, the practice of other religions will have to go underground.
    Nato and President Obama were able to give strengh, weapons, support to radical Inslamist that had freed hard core jihadists ,60 of them.
    It was done exactly what was done in Afganistan with the support to the Taliban to fight the Russians .

    September 13, 2011 at 6:53 am | Reply
  5. Stan

    I want to know who names their kid Mohamar????
    Hey Mo!
    Oh MoHo! Yo Ho?
    Mo, Larry, Cheese!
    Nyuck nyuck nuyck! Woooob wooob woob woob wooob!

    September 11, 2011 at 1:36 am | Reply
  6. Blessed Geek

    I am trying to understand one pattern.

    Armies based on AK rifles tend to be the ones firing their rifles recklessly into the air. It's like they don't care that they could hurt some one else with their recklessness.

    September 10, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Reply
  7. Vernon

    If you don't believe in Jesus now, you will most definitely believe after you die. Kind of hard to deny the prophecies that are still coming true everyday. Read. Research. Study. For some people its easier to just pay lip service to something they refuse to understand. Another poor lost soul. Another walking dead man.

    September 10, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Reply
  8. Jesus is coming

    jesus is a bad story told by con men and beggars and businessmen (old days called religious men) , he never even existed in any way shape or form.

    September 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Reply
    • frespech

      Just curious as to why you don't believe he ever existed?

      September 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  9. Vernon

    Imrational, your performance was magnificent.

    September 10, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Reply
  10. Anon

    Nato and the West is never friends or allies with the rebels or NTC. They see rebels and NTC both as al qaeda terrorists and just did this bombing, and their troops invading for regime change. The real regime is Nato and sooner or later based on another Nato lie they will come in and bomb again and shoot and kill all rebels and NTC. That is what they have always done, learn from the tragedies of history. Nato never leaves once they go to war in a country and their spies, military and other non Nato countries will again help them wipe out any NTC or rebels. Best to be civil and neurtral put up with any leaders and stop waving any flag or acting loyal to any side. Nevel ally with al-qaeda and criminals rebels and NTC. Your deaths are soon to come. If you have any doubts then you dont understand Nato and past history.

    September 10, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  11. Dimwitted Religio-tards

    "Stray bullets have killed some residents of the capital."

    My god, aren't muslims about the dumbest people on the entire planet (and that's pretty darn dumb). In'shallah, eh hajis?

    September 10, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Reply
    • Chris, Austin

      This was a big problem in Detroit for years – on New Year's eve, people firing into the air at midnight. In the 80s, after a four-year-old girl died when a bullet came back down and went through the top of her head, there was an awareness campaign, and I haven't heard of it happening there since. I'm not saying Libya isn't in a volatile region, but stupidity is pretty common on this here planet. Don't get too full of yourself.

      September 10, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Reply
    • Niclas

      You are a moron, heck, we have people getting killed here in the US when they handle fireworks on 4th of July. What a sourgripe jerk you are, poor people that have been subjugated for 42 years managed to get rid of a tyrant and all you can do is insult their jubilation, yes, it's an exuberant and a dangerous jubilation but Gadaffi's regime killed way more people on a daily basis. Either way, you're a jerk.

      September 10, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Reply
      • PiratesRule

        Well said

        September 30, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • JCQueipo

      ALL religious fanatics are STUPID !!!!

      September 10, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Reply
  12. slimm

    Right on,ya'll, Jesus is the ONLY 'forever' ruler.

    September 10, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Reply
  13. edo

    Great lybians this is one step ahead in social evolution. We all are moving together to a global society.

    September 10, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Reply
  14. Pierre

    Jesus is coming back soon its time to prepare urself. Peace

    September 10, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Reply
    • Justa Minute

      Respectfully, they thought Jesus would come back many many centuries ago. There's no reason to believe he's finally making the trip. Not trying to dis him or his followers, just thinking practically.

      September 10, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Reply
      • Imrational

        Well – This time he IS coming back – All those other times they said he was coming back over the last 2000 years were wrong! This is truly the time! And... If not this time, the next time, or, the time after that – or one of the times after those or a bit later or some time after the times that occur after those, maybe, I think. At least that's what they say, and will say again and again until at last he returns... or doesn't. But he will! Maybe! Unless he doesn't – Or won't.... Hmmm...

        September 10, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  15. bigwilliestyles

    Long live free Libya. Gadhafi, like all men of power, became addicted to the sound of his own voice and stayed too long. He tore Libya away from the fangs of the west, only to replace them with his own.

    September 10, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Reply
  16. Emelia Kanson

    Libya seems so much better without Gadhafi holding the reins. A government by the people for the people (or at least the latter bit) really is best, I think. Though I have no connection to them, I'm glad for them, and proud of them for freeing their country. They've more than earned my respect.

    September 10, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Reply
  17. ada gwegwe

    Thanks to d NTC at leas the man who call him self the power of libya is out and out forever.libyan can now move from here if he beliv he can fight to end let him come out GADDAFI you are d devel of Africa.We heat u, we heat u, we heat u

    September 10, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Reply
  18. alex

    Only one man is claimed the tittle forever is jesus .its a matter of time for other ? To fall

    September 10, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Reply

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