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Libya: YouTube videos challenge official media

Abdallah al-Salmi | Friday 18 February 2011, 14:33

Amateur videos by Libyan protestors are testing the pro-Gaddafi (Al-Qadhafi) mood that dominates the state-run media. The videos, on YouTube and other social media, serve as tools in a war of information between the country's government-run media and protestors in various Libyan cities.
The films show mostly small protests, but with unprecedented actions against symbols of the Libyan Jamahiriyah and calls for an end to Al-Qadhafi's 42-year rule.
So a video from Al-Bayda in north-east Libya shows protestors burning a giant poster that congratulated Al-Qadhafi for "changing the course of history". 
Another video in Tubruq, also in the north-east, shows the destruction of a sculpture of Al-Qadhafi's Green Book as the crowd cheers and whistles (still from video, above).
In Benghazi, where protests have been the strongest, a clip shows protestors blocking a road while chanting: "The people want the downfall of the regime" and "Al-Qadhafi is nil".
YouTube protest videos also attempt to demonstrate the spill-over of protests to western Libya, a relatively pro-Al-Qadhafi region. One video, said to have been taken in Zintan, 75 miles south of Tripoli, shows a group of men chanting "Tuz tuz fi Al-Qadhafi", Arabic for "Gaddafi is nil, nil".
Another recurrent theme in the videos of the 16 and 17 February protests is the depiction of the harsh response by the authorities. One, said to be from Benghazi, shows shaky footage of pandemonium in a street and the sound of a firearm. The man with the camera runs towards a group of protestors gathered around the body of an injured man with blood spattered over his face.
Libyan youths also use YouTube to make comments on the protests. "Libyans are not afraid anymore ... This is not a fit of anger; this is a youth revolution to topple a corrupt regime," said a young man in one video.
Videos in support of Al-Qadhafi are harder to find. This could be because pro-Al-Qadhafi videos, songs and talk shows have been broadcast continuously on the Libyan state media. 
Nevertheless, some Libyans have uploaded videos of protests organised in several Libyan cities, including the hotspot of Benghazi, to reiterate loyalty to the leader. One, taken at night, shows a group of Libyans chanting that "Al-Fatih", the name given by Al-Qadhafi to his 1969 coup, "is a popular revolution".
Protestors often upload videos to show that demonstrations are being organised despite the government's denial or failure to report on them. In addition, protestors use social media to provide information to their peers and non-Libyan traditional media, which have a far bigger audience.
Independent Libyan news websites such as Libya Al-Watan and Al-Manarah are increasingly deploying material on social media to bypass blocking or potential attacks on their websites.
Al-Qadhafi himself also appears to be aware of the rising role of social media. After the ousting of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January, he vehemently criticised social media for spreading lies. According to the Libya al-Yawm website, he met a group of Libyan Facebook activists and bloggers on 7 February in a bid to dissuade them from waging "disruptive actions".
The number of videos uploaded on the 16 and 17 February suggests that his calls went unheeded.
For a compilation of Libyan protest videos, see:
Al-Manarah Link (on Facebook)
Enough Gaddafi
Mukhtar Al-Asad
Crowdvoice Libya's page
Bluo85 (videos mainly from Tobruq).
Abdallah al-Salmi is Middle East Analyst for BBC Monitoring.
Post categories: Internet

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1. At 8:13pm on 21 Feb 2011, boudebouz athmane wrote:
the mad colonel is still living in 60th he still believe that with gun we can stop the will of a nation ,he can ask ben ali or better mubark
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