Saturday, September 3, 2011

Women & Families Celebrate in Martyrs Square

Thousands of women have gathered in Martyrs' square in the Libyan capital of Tripoli to add their voices to the chorus of celebrations marking an end to the rule of Muammar Gaddafi.

Women have often been publically absent during the revolution, but they used the occasion on Friday evening to take part in what has been called the "million women march".

Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught, reporting from Tripoli, said: "This is a family night, it is a night for women to come and say thank you to their men for helping liberate their country they tell us."
McNaught said unlike many celebratory occasions in previous weeks, the gathering was peaceful, with no rifles or guns being fired.

They have demilitarized Martyr’s Square. There’s no celebratory gun fire.
“The atmosphere is just lovely.”

Thousands of women who were publically absent for much of the conflict in Libya have gathered in Martyrs' square in Tripoli to mark the end of the Gaddafi era.

Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught reporting from the square says they have called this the million woman march in Libya and it is a family friendly evening.

"There is an absense of rifles and guns in the air, McNaught said. "It is remarkable to seen an event like this with families all together."

Libyans flock to Green Square to celebrate

By Deborah Pasmantier in Tripoli

TENS of thousands of people have thronged Tripoli's Green Square - now renamed Martyrs' Square - to fete their new-found freedom after 42 years of Muammar Gaddafi's rule.

Arriving on buses, in cars and on foot, ecstatic residents of the coastal capital repeated a single phrase over and over again: "Now we are free."

There were women in traditional Islamic robes or sporting colourful headscarves. Some young women wore ballgowns while other youths strutted around in the latest fashions.

"Do you feel how the air we breathe is pure?" said Manal Al-Deber, a 35-year-old pilot.

"We have dreamt of this moment for the past 42 years and now it has become a reality. Today, I no longer dream. Our future is brilliant."

There were no signs of commiseration for Gaddafi, who repeatedly in recent months used broadcasts to insist he was loved by his people and to decry the anti-regime movement as a Western plot.

"Gaddafi has said that the people love him. The people of Tripoli want to show him how they love the revolution," said Jamal Mansur, a 50-year-old who fought to topple the regime.

Others commented how freely people behaved, in stark contrast to earlier times when Gaddafi's network of spies and informants had stifled free speech.

"The people have changed. Earlier they were wary, their faces were horrible," said Ahmed Tarsin, a 34-year-old.

"They spent their time asking you who you were and what you wanted. Today they are magnificent and beaming," he added.

The milling crowds, who created traffic jams along the Corniche leading to the central Martyrs' Square in the heart of the city - an area where Gaddafi lived - cried: "Libyans, lift up your heads, you are free!"

Others held up the black, green and red flag of the revolution to chants of "God is Greatest" - a rallying cry of the fighters who spearheaded the campaign to unseat Gaddafi.

They also raised US and French flags to show their gratitude for the NATO-led military intervention while mocking Gaddafi by wearing curly wigs.

"We will win or we will die" and "Libya is one and united", read their banners.

Interim interior and security minister Ahmed Darrad said in Tripoli today that fighters from elsewhere who had helped to liberate the capital should now go home.

"Starting Saturday there will be a large number of security personnel and policemen who will go back to work," he told AFP. "Now the revolutionaries of Tripoli are able to protect their own city."

The demand aims at defusing possible tensions between Tripoli's freshly emerged revolutionaries and the scores of hardened fighters who poured in from other towns to topple Gaddafi's regime.

Flags of the revolution fluttered everywhere, including on pick-up trucks mounted with cannon. And young demonstrators danced to the beat of tambourines.

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