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Libyans fear West is interested in Gaddafi's money, not human rights


Hasty and unabashed, the uprising in eastern Libya is like most of its participants. Young, impulsive and irreverent to the regime. Like this 22-year-old, who had never held a gun before, let alone used it.

SOUNDBITE, Hammed Mahdi Hammed, 22-year-old rebel (speaking Arabic):
"My father showed me how to use it a few weeks ago. I'm ready to die for my country."

Many in Benghazi proclaimed their readiness to sacrifice their lives for the liberation struggle. Now this heroic rhetoric is becoming a real prospect. As the pro-government forces edge closer, a bloodbath seems all but unavoidable.

International deliberations on what to do about the Libyan uprising have been going on for so long that many people in Bengahzi no longer hope that help will come. Instead, they are appealing to Allah, their last hope, as the Gaddafi forces are closing in on the embattled city.

Friday prayers in Benghazi were the most passionate so far. (план с ладонями на верх) City residents turned their palms to the skies that many hoped would've been declared a no-fly zone by now.

As more coffins arrive from the frontline, high spirits have given way to a sense of abandonment. After several weeks of encouraging statements from western capitals, many here feel deceived.

SOUNDBITE, Kaled Obeidi, Benghazi resident (speaking Arabic):
"Mr Obama you just need our money, you don't care for liberty."

Meanwhile, the city's artists are mobilizing their best resources to boost morale. This song has become an unofficial hymn of the rebellious youth.

SONG (lyrics)
Take up your arms, it's your duty to defend
Don't sit in hole like a mouse
We are calling for you
Came and liberate your country from this vermin

Gaddafi preying upon his people is just one of many themes that local caricaturists have adopted for their visual offensive. Impromptu exhibitions like this one are now on display in almost every rebel-controlled city. The Libyan leader has unexpectedly unleashed unprecedented creativity in his people.

As yet there are no signs of people leaving Benghazi, partially because some are really finding themselves in a Catch 22 situation. Leaving now may be seen as betraying the opposition, staying for too long may lead to persecution later on.
Ironically, it was in Benghazi that Muammar Gaddafi began his quest for power 42 years ago. A young revolutionary, he overthrew the king in a bloodless coup with calls for liberation and an end to tyranny. Those who oppose him now are even younger and demanding the same things but that's where, many fear, historic parallels might end.


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