They came with painted faces and machine guns to celebrate Gaddafi’s demise in Martyrs Square. Green Square, as it was formerly known, was the symbol of his regime. But the new Libyan flag was the one brandished by the people of Tripoli, as it was when they poured onto the streets two months ago when the capital fell to the rebels.
Women and children joined in. Some chanted “the people sacrificed Gaddafi for Eid al-Adha, the Muslim festival due next month.
“This is the happiest day of my life, not because of who we killed, God knows what he is, the killer of women and children, the thief of money, the destroyer of homes,” said one man.
“We would like to send a message to Bashar al-Assad (of Syria) and Saleh (of Yemen), since they will see the tyrant and what happened to him and it is very important that they will learn a lesson from this,” said another as he and the crowd applauded.
There were similar scenes of jubilation in Misrata and across the country. The coastal town suffered terribly during the months-long conflict, as Gaddafi’s forces pounded rebel positions.
“It’s an unforgettable day in the history of the Arab nation, from west to east. We salute all revolutionaries and more precisely those from Misrata who captured the tyrant on this salutary day,” said a resident.
The joy and relief seemed even greater than when rebels swept into Tripoli in August, for this time the whole of Libya was able to join in as one.
Gaddafi claimed his people loved him. The outpouring of emotion after 42 years of his rule shows how different the reality was.