Much of the Arab world is seeing dissent from citizens, dissent from the young, as the emotionally charged memories of the student protests from Cairo and all of Egypt spread through the internet and the media. Tunisia has seen turmoil, as have Yemen and the tiny island of Bahrain. Libya too, has seen protests and violence. The demonstrations in Libya were concentrated on Thursday, February 17, and some related disharmony then was carried over to Friday.
Reports coming out of Libya seem unreliable. It is noted that the CNN News organization does not have journalists in Libya. ABC, in its The World Today, seemed a little short of material; much of their discussion was centered on the eyewitness account of a man named Mohamed who spoke of children and youthful protesters jumping off the Giuliana Bridge to escape security forces. He stated that 12 people died. He went on to say that Gaddafi has brought in the military from Chad, and that people were jumping off the bridge, fearful for their lives. “Children, I swear” he said. “And the water was really deep.” Some reports place the number killed in the city of Benghazi, where the Giuliana Bridge is located, at about 50. Benghazi has long been in opposition to Gaddafi, because of violence and public executions there. There has been substantiation of the military coming in from Chad.
The eyewitness, Mohamed, felt that those on the streets, beyond the military from Chad, were pro-Libyan President Gaddafi supporters who were paid lavish sums to attack the demonstrators. 5000 [dollars?] the man said, and late model cars. Gaddafi has been the Libyan president for as long as many can remember. The people of Libya, with the aid of Facebook, Twitter, and Internet sites staged a “Day of Rage” in protest of government control of the media, and of violence in recent years. Gaddafi staged a counter demonstration, in opposition to the Day of Rage, in the capital city of Tripoli. Few acknowledge movement in recent years toward free expression. President Moammar Gaddafi still controls the nation’s media.
Facebook had live video of protesters in Benghazi, Zentan, Rijban, and Shahat. Concurrently, state media showed pro-government supporters on Thursday in Tripoli in support of Gaddafi. Some claims were made that the government news releases were less than authentic. The pro-government reports showed demonstrators waving flags and holding up photos of Gaddafi on a roadway, to the accompaniment of fireworks.
There has been limited coverage in the media of Gaddafi’s agreement, in response to the protests and the Day of Rage, to double the salaries of state employees and to release from captivity 110 accused Islamic militants.