See also:
» 29.01.2013 - Libya peace very fragile, warns UN
» 31.03.2011 - Libya's Foreign Minister defects
» 24.03.2011 - How cyber-activism lent savvy to North African protests
» 18.03.2011 - Ten nations ready to attack Ghaddafi regime
» 18.03.2011 - Africa defies AU chief's support for Ghaddafi
» 18.03.2011 - France: We can start bombing Libya tonight
» 17.03.2011 - Libya rebels shoot down fighter jets
» 15.03.2011 - Ghaddafi thanks Germany, Russia and China

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Nascent Libya protests spark enthusiasm

Young boy wounded after police shoot at protesters in Benghazi, Libya

© Anonymous via YouTube/afrol News
afrol News, 16 February
- Today's pro-democracy protests in Libya's second city Benghazi, one day ahead of the announced 17 February day of rage, were met with great enthusiasm and unprecedented attention world-wide.

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of youths took to the streets of Benghazi today, calling for Libyan leader Muammar al-Ghaddafi to step down and for social reforms. The precipitated protest marches, violently suppressed by police forces, came as a surprise, with almost no media present to report them.

Nonetheless, the Benghazi protests have become the international talk of the day, with brave Libyan youth using social media such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook to report about their actionism and documenting it with photos and videos made on mobile phones.

The message reached out to both world media and to a world audience. The Libyan unrests have become the news of the day for international media, and Twitter is drowned by numerous messages tagged "Libya" or "Feb17" (the date of the announced day of rage in Libya) every second.

But while a modest number of local Libyan activists were providing the world with messages, photos and videos, the

Protesters took to the streets of Libya's second city Benghazi on 16 February

© Khaled Rahim/afrol News
majority entering the debate were exiled Libyans, fellow Arabs and world citizens, providing advice and alternative information.

Especially Egyptian activists, following their participation in ousting President Mubarak, are helping out. They advise Libyan activists on how to bypass government censorship attempts; how to stay anonymous when leaking information; which channels to use when government blocks social media; how to contact international media; how to protect themselves against teargas; manuals for revolution; and so on.

In the afternoon, government indeed seemed to block access to leading social media and the websites of popular Arab media such as 'Al Jazeera'. The blockade however only lasted for around 45 minutes, Libyans quickly were able to communicate to the internet community.

Meanwhile, Libyans at the spot issue warnings about "pro-Ghaddafi supporters" gathering at a central Tripoli park and the arrest of bloggers and

Libya's "Great leader" Muammar al-Ghaddafi

© Evan Schneider/UN Photo/afrol News
human rights activists, while Libyans in the Diaspora cheer the events, encouraging more Libyan youths to take to the streets.

The e-movement in support of a Libyan revolution has gathered momentum, trying to help Libyans overcome their understandable fears to take to the streets. The movement is powerful, comparable only to the Egyptian pro-democracy e-movement.

Everybody is now waiting to see if this massive e-movement also can be translated to a massive popular protest movement in the streets of Benghazi and Tripoli. Activists in Benghazi already have indicated they will take to the streets again this evening. Tomorrow, the first large protests are to be organised.

Meanwhile, the Ghaddafi regime is preparing its next moves to stop the revolt. Tactics so far have been increased social spending and the spread of fear, with police shooting at protesters in Benghazi. It remains to be seen how it will react to a possible mass movement.

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