Mohammed Nabbous, a citizen media activist and one of the great figures of the February 17th youth revolutionary movement, was slain by a Qadaffi sniper on March 20, 2011 (source)
by Tawfik Mansurey
The media scene in Benghazi, Eastern and parts of Western Libya has flourished since the beginning of the revolution with now, in Benghazi alone, nearly 200 independent newspapers circulating, while many radio and TV stations are on the airwaves. The music realm has also seen a flow of talent from rappers, rock to heavy metal bands. Poets and public speakers are once again rediscovering their voices.
There is a sense of poetic justice to it; after decades of suppressed feelings and thoughts through the mechanism of fear in Gadhafi's police state, the people are back on stage once more and expressing their pop culture after 42 long years of captivity behind the walls of tyranny and idiocy.
I now nostalgically recall my time with the 17th of February Media Centre. The centre was the first media centre to spring to life during the revolution and respond to the unimaginable events which took place on February 17th 2011 in Libya; the centre played a major role and overcome all the odds to help save the Eastern part of Libya from the seething wrath and revenge of one of the most atrocious regimes of the modern era.
How couldn't the Media Centre succeed with men like Mohamed Nabbous (shown above), Kais Al-hilali and Rami al Kaleh, who paid the ultimate price and sacrificed their lives so that their peoples' message would reach the international community.
I don't think I'll ever forget the 21st of February, which was the day after Gadhafi's Compound (al-Fadeel Army Base) in Benghazi and Benina airport had been taken over by the people through their sheer determination and will to either live with dignity or die.
In fact, all the cities and villages in the East had rid themselves of Gadhafi's brigades and his hired foreign mercenaries in a matter of just four days. Four days of bloodshed where hundreds of protestors were gunned down in cold blood and thousands of others were seriously injured.
Benghazi was in a state of shock at the enormity of what had taken place and how the psychotic Gadhafi would retaliate. I recall trying to figure out how I could help, as I knew the revolution must continue as Gadhafi would return with a vengeance and many people would be subjected to his torture and sadism -- death would be a blessing.
I walked downtown to Omer ben Allas St and found people with slips of card-boarded paper with informative slogans from taking care of public property to keeping the city clean. I met a friend of mine, Essam al-Faitouri, in the middle of the street with his two young kids holding a sign informing people that public property in Benghazi now belonged to the people and it was our duty to protect it.
I walked around town not sure what to think. I had no idea who was in charge or if anybody was in charge at all. One thing I knew for sure was that we could not surrender.
Later that evening, I went to the main courthouse which is now known as Freedom Square, and I found many people protesting there. It was electrifying, people were expressing themselves publicly in the streets after a 42 year crackdown on freedom of speech.
However, there was an underlying sense of fear and tension as people followed the news and tried to find out what Gadhafi's next move would be. Stories of mass killings, rape and torture by Gadhafi's brigades and foreign mercenaries were rife and everyone was anxious and fearful.